Light is everything in photography
After all, light is our medium.
Finding the Right Subject & Light
The challenge of finding the right subject and then waiting or coming back for the best light is what drives many photographers. Sure, you can change things in Photoshop if you are skilled, but where is the fun in that. I would rather be out in the environment trying to achieve the ultimate image.
Alternatively if you can't keep returning to gain the best light, learn how to 'see' the light and what effect it has on your subject and then you can react when you come across the incredible!
There is no wrong light!
Whether the light is cloudy, soft, harsh or in between, it depends on your subject and what feel you want to impart to your image that makes the light right or wrong for you at that time.
In the photos of the yellow leaves against the trunk, we have soft cloudy winter light and somewhat harder winter sun as a comparison. The cloudy light produces an image where you can see all the detail in all areas whereas the image with the sun makes use of the shadow in the background to cause the background to go dark. This then accentuates the leaves as well as the sun creating interesting shadows of the leaves. The image has been framed to make use of the shadows on the trunk.
In the next set of three images of grasses with a colourful background, the sun was going in and out behind small clouds, which caused the light on the background and foreground to change rapidly as well as illuminating different areas of the image.
The top left image is in full light shade, which creates an evenly lit image. The grass heads can be seen but lack life.
In the top right image, the background is still in shade, but the grass heads have some light sun on them - giving the grass life, but still allowing a beautiful, soft colourful background.
In the bottom image, the stronger sun is hitting the grasses and the background. The grasses come to life and sparkle, but the background is also starting to dominate more with the extra light.
In the last pair of images, we look at the effect of the colour that is imparted on the subject by different light.
Shade or cloud imparts a blue light on the subject, whereas sun imparts what we consider to be white light. You can correct the blue colour back to 'white' light by changing the colour balance or you can leave it as is and use the cool effect for mood.
Do not use AWB (Auto White Balance) as the camera will correct the colour!
The soft winter sun or the light coming through the edge of a cloud can illuminate a flower and make it glow - especially if you have the light coming from behind your subject so it shines through your petals or leaves.
Light is wonderful and varied and can produce many moods. Take the time to look and really see the effect it has on objects or scenes. Think about how it makes you feel. You can do this whether you have a camera in your hand or not.