Let's continue our discussion on lighting and light that we have been working on for the past few weeks. You will often hear photographers say they are waiting for the correct light or the sweet light to take a picture. So what is the sweet light?
The correct light they are speaking of is the time right as the sun comes up and right before the sun goes down. You may have noticed this special light before. If you haven't, get up early one morning and see it. If you are not an early riser, take a break in the evening and just watch the light as the sun goes down. The sweet light is when everything gets a nice warm glow to it. It's hard to describe, but you will know when you see it. This is when most landscape photographers prefer to shoot because of the glow and warmth the light adds to what would be just an ordinary snapshot at any other time of day.
The sweet light can last a few minutes or it can stretch out much longer and it doesn't happen every day. Each day is different and a couple of times I've packed up my equipment thinking the show was over and headed home, only to look out my rearview mirror to see an even more spectacular sunset behind me. Much to my wife's annoyance, I now stay until it's completely dark.
I'm not suggesting that you should never take a photograph in the middle of the day and that the sweet light is the only way to go. You should take a photograph anytime you have an opportunity in front of you because as I always say, "Any picture is better than no picture at all."
The sweet light is not just for landscapes. It can really enhance the colors in flowers and I've seen some great silhouettes done of people and animals. So set your alarm a little earlier in the morning or drop what you are doing in the evening, sit back and relax and watch the new day come or go. Even if you don't shoot a single picture, it's a great way to start or end your day, watching nature's gift of light.
(Brent Kepner is the owner and photographer at Foto 1 Pro Photo in Elkins. He is a master photographer as well as a certified professional photographer.)