Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Low Contrast

Ground Cover. Photograph by Tim Irving
Ground Cover - Tim Irving
Traditionally, there is a perfect time (the Golden hours), for taking photographs. It lasts for one or two hours (depending where you are and the time of year), after sunrise and one hour before sunset. At these times, the sun is at a low angle and shadows are exaggerated, intensifying contrast. The colours also seem more vibrant during these hours.

For many years I used the Golden hours as an excuse not to take photographs. If it's a toss up between getting up at 5am or staying in bed, then I'm afraid the bed wins. Living and working in Spain caused problems because the light was so intense and contrasty that I had to obey the rule of the Golden hours. In the summer, I started work at 7am. By 9am the light was too strong and the contrast was overpowering.

Now I'm in northern Europe, I'm working in flat even light, and I'm enjoying the experience. I've been looking at a book I have, paintings by Gwen John and I'm working on making lower contrast, less saturated images with a limited palette of colours. The low light forces me to work with my lens wide open, which reduces the contrast further and produces the blur that you see in the photo above.


  1. Lens very wide open by look of the DOF, nicely done though, I wonder how that would look in black and white, look forward to your next.

  2. I very, very much like what you're doing here. And this photograph speaks volumes to me. Though I am one who needs plenty of the cheerful contrast brought on by sunny days, it is just the opposite in my home's interior. There is surely color, but I tend to gray it down and smudge the edges. I've experimented with more vibrancy, but can't tolerate it longterm and have finally surrendered to low contrast. Perhaps that would change if I lived in a climate such as you describe in Southern Spain? Here in my community we do have a very clear sky and sun, but it is often tempered on the edges, or even altogether, by the marine layer, sea mist, blowing sand. Saturated color works in our light, but only if it contains some black or gray in it. Fiesta colors look fraudulent to me on our coast.

  3. Great picture!

    I've always been an experimenter where photography is concerned. I love to try new things, try things that others won't, play with what I see through the lens. I do that with my hands-on artwork as well.

    Your photographs inspire me to do better, to continue to learn my camera and all of it's capabilities (and there are many).

    I've carried a camera for as long as I can remember, and I've been told that I've got an 'eye' for what others can't see. Still, there's always room for improvement and for learning more, even after years of taking photographs.



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