Part 4: Light – Exercise 5: Light through the day (Project the time of day)

Part 4 : Light

Project – The time of day

Exercise 5: Light Through the Day

I’d read quite a way ahead and so I took most of the photographs  for this exercise way back in June.   It’s only now that I’m settling down to reflect upon them. I’ve been going through a more acute phase of loss of confidence in myself as a photographer and being confused as to what I want to achieve from the Course. My attitude towards the exercises hasn’t helped either. My logic knows they’re there to aid my learning and increase my skill, but my inner child takes me back to being 10 years old and having to practise at the piano whilst my friends were playing outside. I gave up the piano when I was 11 but I don’t want to give up the Course.

Thankfully, I’ve gone through a sea change over the past week or so, helped by Course colleagues who’ve acknowledged that they’re going through this same kind of process. It’s been good to affirm that I’m not on my own and it’s a natural part of the learning curve. I intend to write about the exercises in a different way this time by documenting them first and then using later images to evaluate how I’ve absorbed the learning into my practice.

14th June 2011

For me, this exercise needed a day when I didn’t have much else to do and could keep returning to the same spot.  In the interests of expediency I chose our back garden. Most of the garden faces south but there are several trees around the edges which cast shadow. The garden at the side on the right doesn’t get sun until the afternoon. But it’s then blocked by the neighbour’s trees.  The bright sunlight and dark green trees, combined with lighter flowers make exposure complicated.  I’ve been using manual mode most of the time now in attempt to get the right balance.

All of the photographs were taken at ISO 100 except for No, 10 which was ISO 200. and I used auto white balance, with evaluative metering mode except for No. 8.  I think that was because I forgot to change the setting after I’d been somewhere else to take some other photographs!  I was interested to note that the colour temperature stayed at between 4250K and 4750K throughout on this sunny day except for No. 10 taken at 20.42pm when it was 6700K.

No. 1 was taken when I was walking back from the greenhouse at the side of the house. You can see the trees and the light of the early morning sun in the middle.

No 1. 8.40am                                                                                        No. 2 – 8.47am     


No. 3 – 9.29am                                                                                No. 4 – 11.40am 


No. 5 – 12.27pm                                                                              No. 6: 14.22pm


No. 7 – 15.55pm                                                                         No. 8 – 18.17pm


No. 9 – 19.40pm                                                                          No. 10 – 20.42 pm


I find No. 1 the most interesting because I was standing in the shadow of the house in the early morning sun,  and looking from dark into light. As the day goes on and the earth moves around the sun I can see the shadows lengthen until, by the end of the day, there are no shadows at all in this part of the garden. I had framed to avoid the sky and see how the light was falling so now I will look at some later images where I was dealing with light, shadow and sky.

No. 11 – 1st August 2011 at 13.43pm

Wisley RHS Garden on a hot, sunny day. f/11.0 @ 1/80 ISO 100. Manual exposure on evaluative metering. There was enough blue in the sky not to create highlight problems. 

No. 12 – 15th October 2011 at 13.53pm

Claremont Landscape Garden. Another very sunny day in early Autumn. f/11 @1/80.  ISO 400. This was taken at 80mm focal length and with manual exposure. I had a polarizer filter fitted and had to go up to ISO 400 to gain sufficient speed to balance the focal length and avoid camera shake.  When I looked at the metadata I realised that I had used spot metering. Why?! Because I had used it for the previous photograph, where I had focused on someone’s leg, and had forgotten to change the metering mode.

No. 13 – 20th October 2011 12.51 pm

The Garrison Church of St Barbara at Deepcut, Surrey. Built in 1901 of corrugated iron (then considered an advanced building material.

I had been to a meeting and got slightly lost.  As I was driving along trying to find a parking place to set up my satnav I saw the Church. The sun was pouring down on its whiteness, from the side and I just had to stop and take a photograph.  I always have my small Ricoh GDR3 in my bag, set on program.  It was actually very hard to see the image in the LCD screen because the reflected light was so bright.  I want to go back at some point,  and a different time of day, to take some more photographs from a different angle, as the one shown in the web-site link is taken wide-angle slightly from one side and is so much better than this! That’s if I can find it again!

Learning Points

There is a comment in the Handbook (p. 117) stating that “Most casual snapshots are taken some time around the middle of the day, between mid-morning and mid-afternoon….this is an undemanding time of day to shoot”.  That stung a bit, because I have to admit that a lot of my photographs are still taken in the middle of the day even though I know that the light isn’t always at its best.  I can see from the series of ‘through the day’ that shadows can create more interesting compositions and I must make more effort to go out at either end of the day.

Another major learning point is to make sure to check all my settings. Image No. 12 was at some distance; has a lot of green tones and was a general scene so the spot-metering probably wasn’t too crucial but it could have been.

I know I’ve ended with an image taken on program but I do now mainly use manual setting on my larger Canon and feel much more confident with it.

26th October 2011