I took on the Photo composition challenge to shoot light as a subject using the concepts of geometry and balance to frame and compose my shots.  This was the first attempt at getting some shots.  I waited until the “magic hour” only to discover that clouds rolled in just as I walked to a nearby creek and trail. The shots I got were in RAW format all shot in low light forest conditions so at some point I needed to switch to my prime lens to get the f stop low enough.  I took a few shots at very high ISO and had a few with slow shutter speeds. All shots were in Aperture priority mode. It’s always a trade off balancing the exposure triangle. Here are a few that I enjoyed editing and converting to black and white. I tried for the faded black and white photo vintage effect with my editing software.All Images are © RebelOptics.


Light reflected off the metal bridge grating.

The light reflects on the metal grate from the right of frame. The geometric lines of the railing of the bridge creates depth and perspective as well as leading the eye further into the image along the continuing path.

exposure time: 1/400sec aperture: f/1.8 ISO 3200  focal length: 50mm

Black and white conversion of the bridge to a rustic fine art style

I tweaked the tone curves with my software to give it that slightly faded photo feel and to enhance the contrast between light and shadow. In black and white you can see the metal brightness of the grate and the light reflected on the left hand rail of the bridge provide some balance to the dark tone of the wood of the bridge lines. Also in the background the lightness of the bark stripped off the tree provides a counter point to the bridge grate in the foreground.

Below is what the tone curve looked like in converting the image to black and white.

Post Processing to convert the bridge image to black and white

movement balanced by calm light reflection on water

Here the light reflection On the moving water in the foreground is balanced diagonally by the reflection in the back right of the frame. The log forms a natural boundary between turbulence and calm.  The reflected trees in the calm water balance the dark tone of the log. I like the sense of movement conveyed in the ripples.

Exposure time/ shutter speed: 1/30sec Aperture: f/1.8 ISO: 400 Focal length: 50mm

This image may have been more sharply focused if I got my shutter speed up a bit more. Also it’s a bit blue maybe white balance could be adjusted a little. It’s ok I like the shot but there is always something to learn and improve on. Such as…Keep that camera rock steady in low light. As usual I left the tripod at home.

Ripples converted to black and white highlights the diagonal balance of light

The black and white version is really a bit haunting and murky.

Post processing to convert the ripple image to black and white showing the tone curve

Light reflected on the creek which leads the eye to the bridge.

Here the light reflected on the water bisects the green colour of the foliage which is balanced on either side of the frame. The bridge in the background provided some perspective to the depth of the shot which is amazing considering the lack of depth at f/1.8 with the pancake 50mm lens. Really surprised at how it looks.  Possibly could up the ISO and get the aperture smaller and increase shutter speed to focus the bridge and water more. Still, it’s an interesting shot to learn from. At 1/30sec shutter speed you need to be rock steady for the shot and motion of the water will be blurred. A cool effect but Again I should have used my tripod :D.

Exposure time: 1/30sec Aperture: f/1.8 ISO: 800

Black and white conversion shows the light on the water as a counter point to the dark of the foliage

Here rendered as black and white the bridge tends to steal the show from the light on the water as the subject as the eye naturally goes to it. However the water leads us to it giving an interesting point of view and perspective.

Light reflected on water in the lower 3rd of frame

Exposure time: 1/320sec aperture: f/1.8 ISO: 3200 Focal length: 50mm

The subject of light reflection on the water is framed by the tree and the log. I like the diagonal balance of the tree and the log as well as the light in foreground balanced with the light in the sky. The geometric lines of the tree and the log naturally bisect the image and the water from the calm pool in foreground and the water from the sky. Again I could have used a higher f stop for greater depth of field however, Lot’s of light and high shutter speed to capture the detail on the water was the theme of this shot.

Black and white conversion really highlights the light as a subject theme with a rustic fine art appeal.

The Black and white image really makes the light reflection on the lower 3rd of the image stand out. I also love the balance of the tree reflection in the calm pool in the foreground.  The tree tries to steal the show but the eye keeps returning to the water. I had no idea Capturing moving water would be so rich in photographic composition concepts.  In converting this image to black and white with my editing software I adjusted the tone curve to be shaped like an “S” to enhance contrast and cloud the image a tiny bit to get the faded black and white print “vintage” character.

I took a total of 18 shots on this outing but these few were the ones chosen to convert to black and white.  I learned a lot about the difficulty of focusing when my  f stop gets low as it shortens the depth of field.  Also low light shooting really forces you to hold the camera steady.  A couple of my shots not chosen didn’t make it to this article as they were out of focus due to my shutter speed being too slow to let more light in. ie camera shake. Although the shots would have been interesting if I had nailed the exposure correctly. This is what it means to keep “working the shot” sometimes it takes several shots from different points of view and different camera settings to get the final version. For example, work the depth of field with aperture and lens changes balanced with film speed in order to frame the subject and get the exposure to achieve the effect you want in the shot. I challenge others to go out and shoot light as your subject in natural light conditions. Perhaps at some point I will try opposed sideways lighting with a reflector and A tripod when the shutter speed drops below 1/60sec.  I am however surprised at how my few simplistic hand held shots turned out. Having a decent DSLR camera which is easy on the budget makes a big difference in turning a skilled amateur into a well seasoned “protog”