Exercise 4.2

“In manual mode take a sequence of shots of a subject of your choosing at different times on a single day. It doesn’t matter if the day is overcast or clear but you need a good spread of times from early morning to dusk. You might decide to fix your viewpoint or you might prefer to ‘work into’ your subject, but the important thing is to observe the light, not just photograph it. Add the sequence to your learning log together with a timestamp from the time/date info in the metadata. In your own words, briefly describe the quality of light in each image.”

I think viewing light for the purposes of photography overlaps with art/painting quite a lot. A flat image isn’t much good for reference, contrasting tone really helps to show form. Returning to the same image in different light makes you think of Monet’s haystack series. He was clearly deeply absorbed in observing the quality of light each time he painted these.

Monet Haystack Series

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to start my photo sequence at dawn, which I understand is an important time of day for photography, but I have done my best to observe the light from the morning to dusk.

Taking images of the same subject and paying attention to the light meter was excellent practise for me to begin to grasp how to make the appropriate adjustments. As the day progressed, I was beginning to find it more natural to check the light meter through my viewfinder (I could then easily twiddle the dial to alter shutter speed without moving my eye away away from the scene). After shooting I then referred to the histogram, which is becoming a useful tool rather than a baffling piece of data.

9.30 AM 

1/400  f 9  ISO 400

The light appears a little flat here, but in fact this is due to my poor photography skills – there were shadows present I just didn’t capture them! I feel this is the least accurate picture in terms of what I was seeing in real life.


11.30 AM

1/200  f18 ISO 400

The weather has worsened a little, and the quality of light was genuinely more dull here. You can see the sky is more grey



1/200 f18 ISO 400

I’m quite pleased with this picture. The weather has brightened again, and you can see the sun is high in the sky from the shadow cast by this tree.



1/320 f18 ISO 400

And we’re back to overcast again. You can count on British weather. I feel the greys look ‘richer’ in this image though and there is an amount of drama (perhaps?!)


5.30 PM

1/250 f20 ISO 400

I think my ability to get the exposure right has hopefully improved as the day has progressed. Here you can see the sun has moved to the left, as the shadow is now falling to the right and has lengthened. It seems to me the colours look ‘true’ with a full range of lights and darks.


7.30 PM

1/4000 sec;   f/3.5;   ISO 400

Dramatic evening light, with longer, deeper shadow. I upped the shutter speed too much, which has resulted in this being underexposed…


Here’s the histogram. I’m still experimenting with aperture and shutter speed to see the different results


8.20 PM

1/30 sec;   f/11;   ISO 400

No spectacular sunset – and if there was I’d need to rotate to my left. But you can see subtle orange tones, and a sliver of light on the corner of the house and catching the top of the tree.


8.50 PM

1/30 sec;   f/7.1;   ISO 800

According to the internet, sunset is about 8.50pm. Everything has gone grey now, and I’m not sure its quite so easy to guess what time of day this is.



1/30 sec;   f/3.5;   ISO 800

Its just beginning to get dark, and the lamp post is starting to glow. Consequently this is my last pic of the day. Here the image has a bit more richness to it again. The darks are quite velvety, and with light becoming scarce, the tree becomes closer to a silhouette.


This has been an interesting day. By this time I have earnt the reputation amongst my neighbours as being that weird woman who just moved in. Taking multiple photos of a 1970s cul-de-sac does look a bit odd. Happily enough I met a new neighbour this morning who introduced himself as Clive. He didn’t ask what I was doing.

I’m sorry I missed sunrise (currently about 5.50am, it being the height of summer)… I promise to pop out another day if I have insomnia(!) Despite missing this crucial opening part of the sequence, its actually been surprisingly good to pay so much attention to the day unfolding, even from such an ordinary viewpoint.



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