Changing light – an exercise

One of the ‘mini’ tasks we were set during the ‘People and Places’ course at West Dean College was to photograph the same scene at different times of the day to see how the light changed and how this would affect the final image. It’s a common thing to be asked to do but as I had never done it before I was keen to see the results and to try and learn something from them. I chose to photograph the River Lavant which runs through West Dean Gardens.

The first shot was taken at 4.40 pm. Keep in mind all these photos were taken at the beginning of August, so the sun was still quite high even at this time of day. Whist this a pleasant shot of the scene the quality of the light is very even and quite poor.


The second shot was taken on the same day but about two and a half hours later at 6.14pm, so the sun was now much lower. For me this image is a great improvement on the first but it’s still not what I might call a ‘keeper’.


The next morning I returned to the same position. The sky was generally overcast but there were breaks in the clouds. I just hoped the sun would break through. The third shot in this series was taken at 8.52am. It’s flat and there is no question in my mind that it’s the poorest of all the images. Here it is.


Two minutes later at 8.54am and the final shot was captured. The break in the cloud cover had materialised and the early morning sun did its magic on the scene. David Noton, a first class UK based landscape photographer often refers to ‘waiting for the light’….in fact he wrote a book with this line as its title. How very true this saying is to the world of photography. For me this is the best of the four but you may have different ideas, in which case do post a comment.

River Lavant at West Dean

It was very definitely a worthwhile exercise and I would recommend it to any photographer. Time of day and the ever changing light are essential ingredients for a good image, particularly a landscape.
I could not complete this entry without an image in black and white. So I converted the last shot in Silver Efex Pro2. Is this the best of the bunch I ask?

River Lavant at West Dean B&W version

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