|Photo Tip & Assignment #18 – SUMMERTemperatures are high and no one can complain about the Summer in London this year. The month of July was the warmest, sunniest and driest since 2006.
Unlike Spring, Autumn and Winter, the Summer season does not bring dramatic changes to the landscape, so the Photo Tip and Assignment this month will challenge you to photograph something “invisible”: the Heat!
Technically, we cannot “see” heat *. Our eyes can only detect visible light, which is a different wavelength of radiation. But we can definitely “feel” heat and this is the type of images that we are looking for.
The most visible changes during summer are in people’s behaviour. Responding to heat, we change the clothes we dress, the foods we eat and the way we socialise, among many other things.
More hours of sunshine also mean more time spent outdoors and, consequently, more opportunities to photograph.
The often harsh light of summertime is challenging to all photographers, independent on experience level. The tips bellow offer some solutions to this common situation.
– Use a Lens Hood. Many students ask us what is that “plastic thing that comes out of the lens”. That is a lens hood, and it protects the lens from rays of light that can cause flare and glare.
The shapes of lens hood can vary from plain cylindrical (used on telephotos) to a more complex shape, sometimes called a petal, or flower hood (used on wide angle lenses). The petal hood will help to minimise “vignetting”, or the darkening of the corners of the photograph on wide angle lenses.
It is good to remember that some very evoking Summer images purposely capture Lens Flare, so don’t leave the lens hood on 24/7, and experiment photographing this optical effect as well.
– Use Photographic Filters. An accessory that is not often seen nowadays is the photographic filter. There are several types of filters, used for different purposes, and they are usually screwed in front of or clipped onto the lens.
In the times of Photoshop, many photographers believe that filter effects can be mimicked with the software, but some filters’ effects, for example: controlling polarisation at the time of exposure, cannot be replicated in software.
Simplifying, a Polirising Filter reduces reflections from non-metalic surfaces, saturates (more vivid) the colours and darkens the sky. Polarizing filters can be rotated to maximise or minimise it’s effect. They are mounted in a rotating collar for this purpose.
Rotating the polarizing filter will make rainbows, reflections, and other polarized light stand out or nearly disappear depending on how much you rotate. It is possible to see the effect through the viewfinder of the camera in order to control it. An example can be checked here.
Polarising filters also reduce the light by about one to three stops, depending on the filter angle selected, so, not only capturing bold colours, it will also help by cutting some of the available light, which can be very useful in the Summer when light is too bright.
Another useful filter used to redice the light is the Neutral Density (ND). They can be Solid, Graduated or Center ND. These filters vary in density (darkness) and are used to control exposure, cutting overall or partial light from a scene. Using a Graduated ND filter, for example,allows the photographer to darken the sky, while leaving the ground correctly exposed.
Let’s not forget about the UV filter, used to reduce haziness created by ultraviolet light, to which photographic film and sensors are sensitive. A UV filter blocks ultraviolet radiation, which can only be good to your eyes, and it can be left on the lens almost all times.
Before you purchase new filters, check the diameter of your lenses to get the correct size.
Half dozen filters might add an extra weight to your camera bag, making you feel even hotter under the sun, but the result on your images will be very cool! Give it a try.
For inspiration without perspiration, check out the Getty Images‘ Summer gallery.
Upload your SUMMER images to the Flickr Gallery: ASSIGNMENT #18 for a chance to win an Evening Workshop Voucher at LSP*. Deadline: 31/August/13
* unless we use an infra-red film/sensor or night vision camera.
Photo and Text: Luciana Franzolin