Understanding how light affects photographs have a profound effect on how a photographer looks, sees and takes images. The time of year, the time of day and type of light affects the look and feel of a photograph.
In summertime, days are long and sunshine can be harsh. By contrast, days are shorter in wintertime and the sunshine is softer. Where the sun sits in the sky can also have dramatic affects on the subject matter of photos. Dawn and dusk shots can give an altogether different atmosphere than day, or even night, shots.
I often find myself drawn to the winter sunlight. The lower sitting sun lends itself well to shadows and contrast. This doesn’t always work when taking architectural photos. However, sometimes it can create an atmospheric feeling of a building or an area.
This is something I enjoy exploring in B&W photography. The reason is B&W photography is about light, shadows and textures.
I tend to prefer to work in sunlight rather than artificial, which is a luxury of photographing architecture. I must admit, I don’t own artificial lights, and have often not needed them as I generally take external shots of buildings. Knowing when to take photographs of buildings depends on the time of day and where the sun sits within the sky. This is also influenced by the time of year as summer days are longer than winter days.
I had visited Barcelona in February a couple of years ago, and I had expected to take colour photos, particularly of Gaudi’s work. I certainly did this. However, I also found myself drawn to taking B&W photos, particularly of the side streets and back alleys.
When visiting a city, I like to see things off the beaten track. I enjoy getting beneath the skin of a city and experience as much of the character of the place as I can.
Like most cities, these streets, sometimes graffitied, held entrances to flats, back entrances of shops, boutique shops and restaurants. But it was also where sunlight peered into sometimes. And this light accentuated the shadows of pedestrians and architectural features, the textures of the buildings and a life that was partially hidden from the main streets of Barcelona.
It shows a character of Barcelona that is sometimes hidden, or brushed over, by what is more obvious main streets and thoroughfares seen by tourists. However, I am glad I found these side streets and was able to photograph them.