LEARN TO LOVE GREY

Sur­pris­ingly per­haps, even clas­sic Bri­tish grey skies have their place in the ros­ter of light­ing, and can be use­ful

NPhoto - - Niko Pedia -

If there were such a thing as a na­tional light, ours might be this: over­cast grey, of­ten wa­tered. Partly be­cause it just doesn’t feel so good to be out in it phys­i­cally, and partly be­cause gor­geous golden light is some­how ac­cepted by most peo­ple as a kind of deal (see page 78 for more on that), the virtues of soft, en­velop­ing grey light of­ten get over­looked. Its virtues are that it’s re­strained, and can even be con­tem­pla­tive. If your sub­ject suits a som­bre, quiet mood, grey light works well.

In par­tic­u­lar, it’s very good in­deed for colour sat­u­ra­tion, es­pe­cially when you have sub­tle vari­a­tions on a sin­gle hue. The prime ex­am­ple of this is green­ery and gar­dens. If this claim seems counter-in­tu­itive, it’s be­cause sat­u­ra­tion of­ten gets con­fused with con­trast. Sun­light on leaves gives then sparkle, but by cre­at­ing small high­lights and shad­ows ac­tu­ally re­duces the sat­u­ra­tion – or colour­ful­ness, if you like. I once shot a book on Ja­panese gar­dens, which are gen­er­ally re­stricted to a pal­ette of greens, with grey stone, and with­out a doubt my favourite con­di­tions for shoot­ing were grey, and prefer­ably wet.

One pre­cau­tion is to keep the sky, or any re­flec­tions of it, out of the frame. Land-sky con­trast on over­cast days is sur­pris­ingly high, and un­less the clouds are stormy and threat­en­ing, the con­trast within an im­age can be trou­ble­some.

The Bud­dhist tem­ple gar­den of Ichijo-in, Koya-san, Ja­pan.

The typ­i­cal range of greens ap­pear at their most sat­u­rated

un­der soft grey light like this

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