The biggest problem a photographer has (besides budget) is quality of light. I describe the quality of light as an essential aspect of how your image will turn out. Joe McNally has a bunch of adjectives to describe light quality from muddy to harsh, etc. And it’s all true, the mood of your photo is created by the quality of light illuminating your subject. No problem if you are doing flash photography/studio lit shots where you have complete control of your ambient light settings. But, what if you’re outside on a clear blue sky day with direct lighting coming down at noon?! Well, you get something like this:
You get really harsh, sharp shadows and highlights. The lighting is not flattering. It’s not soft. It’s mean light. Now say, you’re a wedding photographer and you have to make pictures at 12PM. What are you going to do? You can’t make nice images in this quality of light. You have to diffuse it. Shade is usually the most sought after option. But in this shot, there is no shade. There are no leaves on the trees yet. So what can you do? (Besides move to a nicer climate). 😉
You diffuse it! I took a giant diffuser and put it on a stand directly over Regan’s head. This makes for a much softer and over all better quality of light. The hard shadows are gone. The mean highlights have disappeared into beautiful softness. But, the image still is kind of flat and even looking, like when you take a picture on a cloudy day. It needs some extra pop.
This is starting to look good! A little bit of reflected light from below acts as a fill light and adds dimension and tonality back into the image. The light has been tamed, now it’s redirected! You begin to make the light work for you.