Photography Means Writing With Light

Did you know that Photography literally means “Writing with light?” That is correct. “Photo” means “light” and “graphy” means “writing.” Hence a graphologist is a handwriting analyst. So, effective use of light is at the heart of good photography.

One of the most common mistakes that a novice at photography makes is to focus on matters such as how many mega-pixels the camera has or what is the zoom available. Naturally the resolution, measured in mega-pixels, will play a role in the quality of the photo. But, that difference in quality will largely manifest itself only when a large print is required. Likewise, the zoom can be a critical factor when it is required, but even a camera with no zoom can take great pictures if they can indeed be clicked without a zoom. And don’t even get me started on the people who click any kind of picture thy can with the belief that the Photo Shop software will be able to convert coal to diamond. Here’s news – great photographs are clicked by great photographers, not great desktop publishing experts.

Where am I going with this? Well, I think that with the increased emphasis on the number of mega-pixels and the intellect-snaring delusion that nirvana in photography is achieved by photoshop-ing, we are forgetting the basics. First things first, get the light, right.

Here are some basics:

1) If shooting a human subject take special care of how light causes shadows on different parts of the subjects face.

2) Be sensitive to “hot spots” being created in different parts of your photograph. Surely you do not want a shiny distractive element in your photo.

3) Look at your complete frame and see how light plays with; either by attenuating or amplifying; different elements. If a background element is being overplayed or under-emphasized, you are doing something wrong.

4) Not all your photography mistakes can be done away with on Photoshop. For instance, an image processing algorithm can never undo the crime of shooting when the color temperature is not appropriate.

5) Use a flash, but only if you have to. And then use a professional flash. The real cheap ones or the inbuilt fluorescent ones will make your pictures look unreal and also make them unappealing.

6) Make use of the best light source — the Sun. Used effectively, it generates the best pictures.

Here is to great handwriting — using light. And when you do click that great picture, post it online to share it with the rest of the world.