Taking in our surroundings

I am currently taking a short course called Exposure: Understanding Light; I wanted to do this as I felt I needed a little more study in this area of my work and also, if I had trouble finding inspiration for photography (not likely it seems), I would have some motivation to get out with my camera.

The first couple of weeks covered white balance and exposure compensation, all very fundamental stuff although I did pick up some new tips and tricks to incorporate into my work. This week, our assignment has been a little more interesting and involves our looking at the properties of light within our surroundings and more specifically its effect during both a sunrise and sunset.

Living in an apartment block situated in the middle of busy city, I am surrounded by buildings, both big and small; industrial complexes and mountains, all of which react differently to light, especially at this time of year when the sun is lower in the sky thus casting amazing long shadows and a glorious warm hue. We were tasked with submitting three images taken during the process of either sunset-dusk or dawn-sunrise and document our reason of choice.

Have you ever REALLY watched a sunset and realised the different stages light goes through in the process? It really is quiet amazing and it is the quality of this kind of light that helps us give form and texture to our images. For example, this shot was taken about 30 minutes before the sun dipped below the mountain range;

© Coppertone Photography
© Coppertone Photography

At such a low angle the light creates long shadows that creep through the roads and alleyways contained within the city thus giving form to our images. The suns low angle also creates the magnificent colours we see in the sky, but here the light is still relatively white (or high) hence the inclusion of blue in the skyline. As the sun continues to set we see the colours in the sky become richer and blue turns into deeper shades of orange, red and even magenta; the reason for this is due to the quality of the atmosphere, the lower the angle of the sun the more debris it has to penetrate and it is the dust, water droplets and ozone that create the colours in the sunsets we see.

© Coppertone Photography
© Coppertone Photography

Then something unsuspected happens; as the sun dips below the horizon everything turns blue or even a little green. This is to be expected because there is no light from the sun reaching the city and only blue, normal light is present, although the pale colours often seen in the sky during this time is coming from the sun below the horizon.

© Coppertone Photography
© Coppertone Photography

As the sun continues to disappear to the west, the light gradually fades however as photographing during low light requires slow and longer shutter speeds, our camera’s sensor continues to pick up these colours, which make for interesting cityscape images.

© Coppertone Photography
© Coppertone Photography

I spend every evening looking out onto Ulsan’s concrete metropolis, but I have never really taken much notice of it up until now, and now as the sunsets over the city I will look at it from a completely different perspective.

More images from my evening of photography can be found here.

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