The Quality of Light

September 05, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Where it comes from, and what it's like, make big differences

 

My recent time spent on NAF El Centro yielded a bevy of striking images. Looking through them I noted the differences in character that come from differences in lighting and figured I'd share some observations. The three images are of EA-18G Growlers, electronic warfare variants of the F/A-18F Super Hornet and, due to the time of day each was captured, the lighting changed in direction, color, and clarity.
Photo call at NAF El Centro
This first image was shot at almost 1 o'clock in the afternoon, November 17, and I'm looking north. The sun is full, the sky is clear, and the result is a perfectly rendered, descriptive image of the aircraft. Details are easily discerned, even in the shadow areas. There is a blue tint to the light owing to those clear, blue skies. A good image if description is the goal.
Photo call at NAF El Centro
This image was shot almost exactly three hours later. The aircraft is banked left, putting the sun on top and casting the flanks of all surfaces in shade, plus you can see a definite shift toward a warming of the light. Agreed, the slightly more nose-on angle of the shot helps, but the lighting, by itself, adds more body, sculpting, to the shapes. It's a more dynamic, fuller, weightier vehicle before us.
Photo call at NAF El Centro
Forty minutes later and the sun is going down. Not only has the direction of the light changed again, but the warmth of the dusk light bathes the aircraft in gold. There is sculpting of the shapes but, because the light is more frontal, combined with the warm light, there is a strong yet unhurried energy to the aircraft. It's definitely moving ahead, the light striking the frontal surfaces as surely as does the air.

Different lighting. Different results. None is superior to the others because each has its place — it all depends on what you need from the image.

 

– Mark Bennett


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Photography is a massive field. Aerospace photography less so. In these writings I share stories and tips.
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