What exactly does "reading the light" mean?

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
Aaron801 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,057
Re: What exactly does "reading the light" mean?

Michael Firstlight wrote:

Well said.

One thing that helped me read the light was was when I began to concentrate every bit as much on shadow - just like it helps to understand composition better by concentrating on negative space. Call it reading the dark LOL. Now I think about and apply (or at least recognize) subtractive lighting almost as much as I use additive lighting when, whether it be natural or artificial if I can gain such control over it.

I totally get that. Shadows can really carve out their own shapes and change (and often improve) the composition. In certain instances I like to capture a lot of dynamic range but more often than not I want to emphasize the shadows, rather than lightening them to pull out detail.

Having lots of dynamic range to work with is a good thing and yet if you look at some many photographs that are considered classics the photographer actually went the other way and let shadows fall to black.

Not to get into another debate about RAW vs JPEG, but for me I like to be able to experiment with and really fine tune this kind of stuff; contrast, tonal range, pulling or not pulling out detail from highlights/shadows and so RAW is always going to be better for that approach. I'm mostly shooting B&W though and it's a somewhat (but not entirely) different thing with color.

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