January 11, 2010

OK, now that we have discussed how to hold your camera and why it is important (camera shake), we can now move on to the most important thing you need to consider when taking photos of children. And that is – LIGHT!

Think about that for a minute. When people first discovered how to create images of what they could see onto other materials it was all about light. The word photography derives from the Greek words ‘fos’ – meaning light and ‘grafo’ – to write.

The very first photograph was made in 1825 by a French inventor named Niépce on polished pewter plate covered with bitumen of Judea, a petroleum derivative.

As it turns out Bitumen will harden when exposed to light. The remaining, unhardened Bitumen was then washed away leaving only the hardened Bitumen. Niépce then polished the pewter metal plate thereby creating a negative image which could be coated with ink and then impressed upon paper producing a photographic print.

Later, when camera film was invented, the same principle applied. Light was allowed to enter the camera, at first through a pin hole and later through a lens, onto film. In 1884 George Eastman developed dry gel on paper, or film, to replace the photographic plate. This invention meant that a photographer no longer had to carry boxes of plates and toxic chemicals around with him when taking photographs. By July of 1888 Eastman’s Kodak camera came onto the market with the slogan “You press the button, we do the rest”.

Before you pick up your camera take a few minutes and look around you. If at home during the day, observe the shafts of light coming through your windows. Notice throughout the day how the light changes direction and brightness. As evening approaches and you begin to turn on lights, observe how fluorescent light differs from the light produced by tungsten bulbs.

Have you ever walked over to one of those jewelry stores in the mall and noticed how the overhead light makes the diamonds in the display case sparkle? Or have you ever noticed how the sky is lit with wonderful colors just after the sun sets, or the crimson to orange glow as the sun rises on the horizon?

Light is all around us, and we take it for granted with barely a notice. But if you want to take great photographs you need to start by observing all of the light around you. Look at shadows, glare off of glass, moon glow and the different kinds of light you see as you go in and out of different buildings.

Once you begin to observe light around you it will become possible for you to understand how to use light in your photographs. Without light there would be no photographs, film or digital, so start at the start – check out the LIGHT!


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