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How photographers talk about light


Brightness (intensity) and contrast - as illustrated in this image of a ballerina being interviewed in practice by writer, Bryan Carson - are just two of light's qualities of interest to photographers.
Brightness (intensity) and contrast - as illustrated in this image of a ballerina being interviewed in practice by writer, Bryan Carson - are just two of light's qualities of interest to photographers.

As with artists, craftsmen and scientists (a photographer must be a combination of the three), control begins with our ability to describe our medium.

Four properties of light are of chief concern:
- intensity (or brightness),
- contrast (between light and dark areas),
- color, and
- polarization.

When a light wave interacts with everyday substances:
(1) The height of the wave crests indirectly determine the light’s intensity or brightness, which has a direct effect on contrast;
(2) The wavelength (the distance between crests) largely determines color;
(3) The angular orientation of the crests results in light’s polarization.

Please carry on to the subsections that deal with Brightness and Contrast, Color, Refraction and Reflection for more information on each of these topics.

Color is an important property of light that photographers must learn to contend with and master.
Color is an important property of light that photographers must learn to contend with and master.


 
Further information...
Light brightness and contrast
Light and color
Light refraction
Light reflection
Related topics...

Painting with light