Olga Levien
New Zealand Artist | Mentor | Mum

Olga Levien wedding | documentary family photographers Blog

Personal projects and documentary-lifestyle photographs taken by Olga Levien photography artist - wedding and family photographer in Auckland, New Zealand and international.

5 ways to see and use the light {Photography education - online tutorials for photographers}

Published at Clickinmoms

5 ways to see and use the light


Light and photography go together all the time. Ability to SEE the light and USE it in your every day or clients photographs is essential.

It's easy to say than do, the first year in my photography I had no idea how to look for light, see the light, follow the light. The hero for me was the moment, moments with my kids running around, jumping on the bed, playing in the darkest spots in the room.  Then  I found there much better light near the windows; images come out much more beautiful. Another discovery: there qualities of light as temperature {I started to use Kelvin}, directions {I begin to watch where light is coming from and shoot based on it}, harsh or soft light {i loved both of them I found how and when to use it}. Other discovery on my way was there not only the LIGHT, but also a SHADOWS. They much more fun to play with, so great to find a ray of light in this shade.

So let's see my favourite ways to SEE and USE the light.

1. Follow the light. Flat direct/side/back light,  or even light coming from the top. I love to see the light on the subject! If I found direct light and solid background I will use it {basically with the direct light you can easily see the light source and shoot light fallen on the subject}. 

Direct light with solid background:

girl walking in the harsh direct light

Backlight on the wedding:

couple walking in the beautiful sunset light

My kids in the car {light coming from the top skylight}:

kids in the car

2. Finding light between shadows, a Pocket of Light or Dappled light. Did you ever saw how light rays move through the blinds leaving deep lines of shadows on the wall and everything around {this is a dappled light}, or your kids playing in the spot of the light {in front of the window} and light so bright that if you expose for highlights, everything else falls in the shade. The perfect way to your shooting is to find the balance between light and shadow and also help to delete all distractions {as toys and mess at the background}. I just love to use it, and if I see this yummy light, I just go for it.  

Bridal portrait in the dappled light:

bridal portraiture in the dappled light

3. Refine the light. If you in the open space and there too much light for your liking you can always use filtered through the trees light {especially beautiful before the sunset}, open shade {where you can get even constant light} and under the cover {inside the house, in the garage etc.} where light will come in certain way limited by other objects.  You can even point your camera with an angle and shoot from the top to cut off not necessary light. Try to still get light on your subject {i love to have a rim light on the hair / head / side of the face etc.}.

girl standing in rim light
bridal details flowers

You can also refine the light shooting in the absolutely open space, don't be afraid to shoot in direct, even harsh light, have fun with it, capture the moments happening unfold!

black and whit candid documentary moment {Auckland family photographer}

4. Find the light. You can be in the situation where there no sign of light, say you are shooting on overcast weather {or in the room with lots of windows all around} and have no idea where light is coming from, it is everywhere! Then my advice is to use a few tools that help to find the light:

- Sun Seeker App {this app showing where the sun located at different time of the day and also at different seasons}, perfect for location scouting

- using another person and look at the face trying to turn in different directions and see when more light falling on the face {your child, assistant, or client}

- use your hand, turn around or just change hand angle to see how light fall on it

- using a dark marble {to see how light fall on it}

- and my last and favourite tip is to underexpose the shot and look at your camera screen to see where light and shady areas.

DailyLife_LevienO-21.jpg light
girl laughing in the playground -

5. Practice and be patient. Finding the light and ability to use the light not coming in one go. It took me a couple of years to start noticing the light, knowing how light changes during the day and at different weather conditions and then found my favourite ways to shoot different types of light {observing, practice, analysing what I like and dislike and apply it to next shooting in similar conditions}.

This process will go faster if you take your time just to watch the light and then you will see it everywhere you go. It's such a pleasure to discover the light even in dark spaces and create something that speaks to your heart.

black and white emotional portrait

Take your time and enjoy your journey!

Please share your images with your discoveries and adventures!

Thank you for your attention  Cant wait to see your shares!

Cornwall Park - Auckland photographer

Contact me with any questions!