Light is the basic element of the art of photography and from an etymological point of view, the word “photography” means “drawing with light”. So, among the following lines we will come into the aid of photographers who practice the most common type of photography, travel photography, by presenting the importance of light in travel photography.
Light is everything to photography and the photographer’s role is to “capture” light in an image. In most cases, the light is what makes the difference between a good picture, a true masterpiece, and a failure photo.
It is true that there are many factors that influence the quality of images, which include photo-composition or correct framing of the elements into the image, sharpness, the way the picture is exposed, the creativity of the photographer and the manner in which this is reflected in the message that the artist wants to convey, but light is the main factor and every photographer must be aware of this.
Travel photography is probably one of the most popular genres of photography, considering that anyone who is on the road all the time wants to capture unique moments of vacation or holiday through original photos. Whatever the level of knowledge they have in terms of photographic technique, all photographers, whether amateur, novice or professionals, should pay special attention to how light falls on the subject or on the topics chosen for the photo itself.
When it comes to photos during travel, the aim of most people is to capture the moment, which makes the basic rules to be somewhat neglected. Even if the photographer is an amateur and uses a compact camera, this does not prevent him from taking fabulous photos. Not to mention the photographers that have good-performance DSLRs with which they can toggle with the settings of the devices until they get the desired image.
However, when traveling, either if they make small trips in close regions or visit distant exotic countries, the attention of photographers is drawn, in principle, by landscapes, buildings and people. Landscape photography is a special type of photography influenced by how much light is reflected in the landscape itself.
This is true also when shooting buildings, an interesting type of photography that reveals a different architectural style and a unique culture. Travel photos are made during both day and night, in the latter category being comprised the urban photos in which the artificial light makes its presence felt fully.
For landscape photography, as we mentioned before, the image is not formed only by the imposing peaks of mountains, deserted beaches, or fields choked with colorful wildflowers. No. Landscape photography is the result of light that is reflected in shape, color, lines, textures and … air. The same location photographed at different times will look completely different. With a lot of exercise, photographers will figure out what the best time to capture a certain landscape is.
The atmosphere influences a lot the way light reflects on the elements that compose the picture. If when the air is clean, the picture is clearer, the details can be seen quite easily, the colors are very bright because the light is reflected directly on the subjects of photography, and in case the atmosphere is oppressive and the air is moist, colors will be blurred, details will not be noticed and distant objects will no longer be distinguished.
However, you can make original photos during foggy or rainy weather too, if the photographer succeeds to properly exploit this type of light. And this is valid for all photographers, because anyone can have not so nice weather during their vacation time while, however, shooting is required. On a gloomy weather the amount of light is, of course, smaller, so that’s why landscape photography is so difficult in these conditions. But things do not stand quite so when we’re talking about photographing buildings.
But not only weather influences the natural source of light. Photos are strongly influenced by the light characteristic in certain periods of the day. For special artistic photos it is recommended that they are taken in the first 2-3 hours after sunrise and before sunset, when light is not as strong and is not perpendicular to the elements to be captured, flattening them. The light from this period is soft and reflects in a particular way the shapes, shadows, colors of the photo’s subjects. Photos with the theme of buildings will be more successful if performed at this time, too.
Even if the most successful pictures are those taken in early morning and before dusk, this does not mean that during midday, when light is stronger, one cannot take impressive travel photos. Landscapes, especially those made at the seaside, are downright exceptional when made during the day.
Besides these issues, photographers must be careful to the manner the light falls on the subject. Most often they prefer shooting with the back at the sun, but also counter-light photography has special effects. Direction of light, in combination with the light’s intensity, greatly influences the aspect of a photo.
For landscapes, when shooting with the sun behind, the colors are more intense and warmer. Contre-jour photography is peculiar but much more difficult to realize, the photographers having to know a lot of photographic techniques. These photos are very interesting just because of the fact that the sun is an element present directly in the photo.
As we specified previously, when shooting buildings, for the shapes, colors and architecture to stand out, light is essential. During trips, photographers want to capture the inhabitants of the regions they visit, their entire culture and traditions. For photographing people it is recommended to use a diffuse light, the most suitable one being in dreary day.
Therefore, light is the magic ingredient of any photo, and the photographer must know how to use this “ingredient” without which the art of photography would not be possible.