6 Jun 2008

Photography in mixed light

For anyone who doesn't know, and who may have a passing interest, I'm a keen cruising sailor, and posts on the blog may be a little spasmodic during the summer months because of this interest. But that doesn't mean that I will not be taking lots photographs. In fact few activities lend themselves to picture gathering more readily than sailing. Maybe not when the conditions are rough; then I'm just too busy sailing the boat. However, cruising takes me to some very beautiful locations. At the moment I'm based on the West Coast of Scotland and few places on earth can be more spectacular. Mountains and sea are a powerful combination. I hope to be posting some pictures taken on some of my short voyages over the next few weeks… but I promise I won't bore you rigid with boat talk.

Yes, I'm lucky that on my boat I get to see some wonderful places; I often drop the hook in secluded anchorages that are impossible to get to without a boat. But, you know, with that understanding of the light that I keep rattling on about, visual interest and appeal is to be found just about everywhere you look.

The picture above confronted me one evening when I put my head out of the saloon doors and looked across the marina at Troon Yacht Haven. Now marinas are not noted for their beauty. In fact they have been disparagingly described as boat parks. Although Troon is a good safe place to keep a yacht, no one could describe its setting as idyllic. But look at the way the last rays of daylight are slanting onto the houses behind the row of boats, while the boats remain in shadow. I took one glance at this scene and dived back below to get the camera. This sort of light sometimes last for only a few seconds.

It's the combination of light temperatures the 'mixed' light - that gives this picture impact and appeal. The high temperature blue light of the shadows is in total contrast to the low temperature golden light shining on the houses. Those are not the prettiest houses in the world, but in that wonderful light the place looks like heaven.

It is vital not to over-expose with this type of shot. By all means let the shadows go dark that will add to the impact but over-exposure would have washed out and lost the colour in the houses. I took my light reading from the houses NOT the boats, and I deliberately under-exposed by 1/3 stop in order to saturate the colours a little.

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