Travel Photography for Beginners: Let’s Talk About Light | Mariya Popandopulo | Skillshare

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Travel Photography for Beginners: Let’s Talk About Light

teacher avatar Mariya Popandopulo, Photographer & Illustrator

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

12 Lessons (23m)
    • 1. Class overview

    • 2. Introduction

    • 3. Morning light

    • 4. Midday light - sun

    • 5. Overcast and cloudy light

    • 6. Rain light

    • 7. Mixed light

    • 8. Evening light

    • 9. Shadow evening and sky light

    • 10. Night light

    • 11. Class project

    • 12. Conclusion

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About This Class


Once you become interested in photography it is really hard (sometimes almost impossible) to just walk around new places without your camera attached to your body.

You may end up seeing the whole trip through your lens (and on a computer screen afterwards). Which is not really a good thing, unless you are paid for your travel photographs.

So my advice is to find a balance. Don’t just spray and pray that something will turn out ok. It will, given you take a tons of pictures, but the point of traveling is to experience new places and you have to take your experience beyond your camera.

In order to do so, it is very good to know in advance a few practical techniques that will allow you to compose and capture images faster.

In these short and sweet series of travel photography classes I will talk about light, composition, making portraits and some other helpful tips you may find quite useful. I decided to break these topics into separate classes so it will be easier to digest.

So in this first class I will talk about the light! As you know light is extremely important in photography and although you can not control the natural light while you are traveling (yeah I wish I could) it is very useful to know what kinds of light you may encounter and how to deal with a given light situation.

So, press enroll button and lets dive in into the magic of light!

Oh, one more thing!

For those of you who are not on premium membership, here is a link for a free enrollment in this class =) There are 40 free places currently.

And for those who want to upgrade to premium membership, get 3 months of Skillshare Premium for only $0.99  Here is my link to use that offer.

Have a great day! =)

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Mariya Popandopulo

Photographer & Illustrator


Hi! My name is Mariya and I am photographer and illustrator based in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

I never could quite decide what do I love more - photography or illustrations, so Im doing both =D

I have illustrations portfolio on Behance

My preferred social media currently is Instagram (no surprise here =D)

I also post comics and doodles under Pinks&Roses name

See full profile

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1. Class overview: Once you become interested in photography, it is really hard and sometimes always impossible to just walk around you places without your camera attached to your body. This is me traveling humane. That's seen the whole tree prevalence and on the computer screen afterwards, which is not really a good thing unless you are bait for your travel foot of it. So my advice is to find the balance, because the point of traveling is to experience new places and you have to take your experience beyond your hammer. You know that it does. So it is very good to know in advance a few practical techniques that will allow you to compose and capture images faster. Hello, my name is Maria, and I'm a photographer from Allah. And then this short and sweet Siris of travel photography classes. I will talk about, like composition, making portrait and some other helpful tips. You may find point useful. I decided to break these topics into separate classes so it will be easier to digest. So in this first plus, I will talk about the like. As you know, light is extremely important in photography, and although you cannot control the natural light while you're traveling, it is very useful to know what kinds of light you may encounter and how to deal with the given life situation. So present roll button and let's diving into the magical light. 2. Introduction: in any photography light would be a great starting point. However, while you're traveling, you can't really be in control of it. Off course you can make portrayed in, say, during direct and harsh meet their life. But you can't really bring the whole ancient structure to a better light set up once you visit in it. Say you have just two days in a given place like me in Athens. Off course, I would love to make all my pictures during soft sunrise, light or warm evening life. Or better yet, my most favorite mixed life because those are my general like preferences, but because I cannot stuff all of the size things into too short periods off morning and evening and mixed light doesn't happen, Old Adelson. I would shoot in any light that is given to me, and so should you, waiting in one place for hours for a perfect short, just not worth it. Not to mention your travel companion ain't gonna be too happy about it, So let's talk about possible light set ups you may encounter 3. Morning light: morning like I find morning like the most neutral one because it is still soft and that's quite a bit of volume to the scene. However, it is not as warm as the sunset like morning is probably the best time to go. Make some great pictures, not only because the lightest, soft and generally easier to handle for a camera, but also that their A list tourists. So if you can get up early and visit the place, you really want to have nice pictures in the morning. However, keep in mind that this light is changing fast and will not last long and will be followed by strong day life if it's a sunny day. Also be aware off backlight images just to refresh your knowledge. Backlight. Sit up is when a source of light is located behind your photography objects, like the sun here on the right of this image. Although it is not directly behind the personal, it is still quite close and in the frame of the image, even though the sun may not be as strong as during the day, do you tell low angle? Some rays do not heat the front of my image. In other words, almost all objects in my image. I in shadow from my point of shooting, however some his directly the lens and has a strong impact. You can see the sky is totally over exposed. It is almost white if I try to expose for the main object, So what can you do if you want as much details in all parts of your image, straight in camera, shadows and light. If possible, relocate yourself to such a position where sun will shine upon your object or at an angle rather than from behind. Here is a picture taken from the same sport but into the opposite direction. Sand light hits the top off the beauties, and you see that the sky is actually clear and blue well before, we couldn't see any color in the sky at all. So this will only work if you can move fast from one side off the object to the other, which was rather impossible. Here I have to go around the heel and take the picture off the Parthenon from the opposite side, but since it's quite a distance, by the time I would get her the light cool that you will change and it will be a different picture altogether. Like here, the first image was taken directly opposite the morning sun at 9 47 AM You can see that the images quite hazy because San shines directly. Adolescence. The Eiffel Tower is more off facility and not many details off. The structure are visible. The colors are quite muted. The image on the right, however, was taken roughly half a Knauer later, and it was taken on the opposite side off the tower. The shot was made with the direction off the life the sun was behind the photographer. As you can see, the overall feel of the picture is different. It has much more contrast, and details as well as colors are definitely more visible. In both cases, I used exactly the same editing, meaning I did not add extra saturation or contras toe either off them. Next, you can try to refrain your picture so that the sun will not hit your lens directly. This will help your camera with exposure. It will not have to deal with such a high contrast situation. Buildings that in Shadows and Jones Sunrise light and will help you get more details from the dark and light areas. Unfortunately here, this was quite hard to do. Do the balcony disposition towards the main object. Still, the remote details in the short and again you see that this guy has color. Here is an example where some historians directly top image and when the sun is hidden behind the building bottom image. You can see that there are much more details in shadows in the second image because some light does not feel the frame as much. Now you can also wait for some to go a bit higher. The light quality will still be great, but the objects in the image will be much better exposed. So OK, from this picture, you probably guessed that waiting was not really an option during the trip. So this image is taken from another place. But the direction off the lightest similar just the sun is higher this time. Another thing to try. You can save details in post production if you shouldn't row form it like I did here. Just a quick reminder and row former is basically it digital negative that says a lot more information than a J pic. Mind you personally, I don't really like this road. And normally I prefer to spend less time editing travel pictures, so I would try to get a result I want in camera. Finally, back light can be a creative choice off yours. If you can change it, embrace it, try a sell it like I did here. 4. Midday light - sun: me daylight. Bright sunlight. If there are no clouds and the skies bright, this might be the hardest light to deal with, especially for portrait's and landscapes. Because the light is direct and strong, the shadows would be more pronounced, while well lit areas tend to become too overly. However, despite this high contrast between shadows and highlights, the midday pictures tend to be flooding colors as well as not having much volume and dimension as compared to evening or morning by exposure for one way result in significant under or overexposure off another. Here to pictures to show what I mean. The picture is exposed for the doctor bars off the scene, building on the right, while the bottle one is exposed for better lead areas. Trees. You can see that if I choose to set my exposure for bed early parts, the inside of the building becomes too dark to see much of details or colors, so there would be a trade off, depending what is more important in the shop and where you want to get more details. In this particular case, I think the bottom picture is better than the top one. As with morning backlight You can also try to save details in post production if you shouldn't roll. Here is a result of the bottom image being edited. I increased shadows and blacks in light room, so yeah, normally foot over first would try to avoid harsh midday sun light. However, it can still be beautiful and will show the atmosphere and the weather for the day. You just have to be a teeny bit more creative editing may take a bit more time if you're going to try to recover shadows and highlight. Remember I told you, you can't really bring a big landmark structure to the good light. Okay, but you can still find a lot of interesting scenes in shadows. For example, this picture was taken on a very bright day, and you can see how short shadows are, which means that sun is almost directly above. There is so much of it that colors looked washed out. Now consider this semi, which was taken at approximately the same time. But from the shadow can you see how much more color this image has? In addition, this image is stronger compositionally wise because the natural frame that tents, cars and tables create to draw attention to the main subject, the street vendor. So this is another advice when, like conditions on the perfect work on your composition, and I will talk more about composition in the second class off this series, you can also hunt for details. Details are those small things that bring atmosphere it your images. And because they're relatively small, it is easy to find those in a more flattering light, like these bananas, which will also dig on the same street as the street vendor. Or ultimately, you can take details to a better light, like a nice cream here. Although the background is very blurry, you can still see how much light the right side of the picture has hinting at the fact that it was a very hot and sunny day. Finally, take a break and go eat something bright. Daylight time is a great time to shoot inside the buildings as strong, natural light outside will bring just about enough white inside, especially if you are planning to make some Yanni pictures off the food 5. Overcast and cloudy light: cloudy and overcast at first, this may seem as a boring life, but in practice it is the one easy to work with because the white clouds will act as a natural diffuser. If you saw my class on still life photography, I talk about defusing like quite a bit. It helps make the light distribution more even, and hence the image will have more details. Pictures made in overcast, cloudy conditions will be more moody and saddle as opposed to pictures with lots of sun and them. Bright colors would put more in such light. So if you want your images toe, have that extra kick look for colors and maybe life. See artificial lights like here on the shop window, look extra magical on a cloudy day on the opposite side. Look for since without many collaborations to arrive at moody and more dark images. Also, one problem with overcast light may be that the sky will turn out to be almost wife. Personally, I don't have a problem with that, But if that bothers you, just watch out for your composition and try not to include a lot of ski guy in your images , like on the image on the right 6. Rain light: rainy light, so rain during your trip may feel like you've been cheated by the weather. So me personally, the only drawback is the need to carry umbrella around and, you know, with camera in the back, my hands already quite full. But apart from that rainy weather is as good as any other photography wise. It even has some benefits. For starters, the colors during and especially just after ring are so clear in saturated the pictures. Get that instant vibrance and life to them. Secondly, although they might be not enough light, it is at least quite evenly distributed, similar to cloudy and overcast. Light as a bonus, do you to the lack of light. Any artificial light will introduce extra magic and coziness into your images. I also love capturing details when it rains, especially raindrops. In addition, after in whether is a great place to get a little bit creative and dive in tow. Paddle photography Please don't mind the falling horizon here. This picture was made before had any knowledge of composition. Finally, rain means that there are less people outside, so you have high chances to capture sizing without people, or at least with a small number of them. So you see not so bad, isn't it? 7. Mixed light: mixed like this has got to be my favorite light ever, where at least it doesn't happen all that often, So I truly appreciated every time that comes around. So what I mean by mixed life. It is a combination off heavy, normally de blues thunderclouds mixed with sun rays. I mean, it even sounds amazing, right? Well, it looks even better. Here is a comparison off two images taken on the same day this one was taken at approximately mid day. You can see that this is a typical midday. Bright sunlight set up shadows, a short which means the sun is right above skies blue with a few white clouds. It is a good picture overall to my taste. However, here is another one taken about an hour later from roughly the same spot. The look at the color of the sky is blue. It looks like it's about to rain, yet the scene is field with sunlight. There is just so much drama in the second image, so many contrast and expectations off pouring rain, that is, and that's why I love this kind off life, even if you don't have any action in such a picture, the contrast off life. This balance off heavy clouds and sun makes the picture of life. Here is another example of you off my home city. It is a late afternoon and the skies filled with blue clouds. However, sun is still shining, and all the noise creates a stunning effect. Some far sobriety lead by sun, while others like top right corner or not, and it gives quite a lot of volume and contrast to the picture. Maybe one problem that you may face with such a light is too much contrast, and hence finding it hard to expose properly if your camera faces the light source, son in this case directly. But the solutions are the same as with the morning light photography shoot with the direction off the light rather than against it refrained the picture, so to exclude direct sound into the lens. Other than that, my only advice with this kind of light would be Don't miss the opportunity. It is really hard to make it, but picture in such a light set up, I deliberately went to find my old one before I knew anything about photography. Picture from five years ago showed in a fancy point and shoot camera, so the whites of the buildings are slightly blown out. But look at the overall contrast and impact of the picture. It looks alive, it looks vibrant, and that's why I love it. 8. Evening light: evening like evening light can produce stunning images. I mean, we're also pictures those amazing sunsets still with golden colors cool that you like evening. Lightest, similar to morning life, it comes to the picture at a significant angle, hence its softer and more gentle, adding lots of volume and soft contrast to the picture as a both. The morning light evening sunset, like most of the time, is more warm coloring objects with orange yellow tin, for example. The image on the left was taken in the evening. See how warm the images? The picture on the right is what was opposite. See with a sense you can see that warm colors from the sunset directly affect the colors of the picture. Taken with the direction off the light on the picture on the left, Sanders shining at the door. Early evening light is grateful Street pictures as the lightest, softer than me daylight, but still as quite a bit of contrast with shadows and welded areas. You can see on the image on the left that it has both areas well, lead by son and air is in shadows. Yet because the sun is not very low. Both areas enjoy enough exposure so that you can see a lot of details. Image on the right shows how beautiful. Warm evening light ISS As with morning light, you have to be aware off, shooting back like typically sunset. Our also called the Golden Hour for the warm colors it makes everything look is a great way to make whimsical pictures by shooting back life meaning shooting against the sun. Consider the picture on the left. See how hazy and almost magical looking it iss Well, that's because the image was shot at the sun. The image under right, however, was taken at the same place, but in the opposite direction. I was sitting with the direction off the life. The sun was behind me and my camera. You can see that Although both images have the same warm golden colors, the one on the right has more contrast in more details. So keep this in mind. If you need as many details as possible at the sense of ours, it is better to shoot with the direction off the light rather than backlight once again. Same as with morning light shooting backlight may also mean that camera will find it hard to expose properly for both white areas and dark ones like here. The first image I was sitting my exposure for the foreground and as you can see, the skies almost white. When I tried to expose for the sky, the four wrong became too dark and I got to Syria. Finally, I took the second picture. The under exposed one and tried to see What can I do with it? Invite room and the first picture is the result. You have to remember to get as many details from a picture You have to shoot in a row. Former. Okay, One more thing about evening life that you may encounter in the cities is nicely summarized in this picture here. You clearly see that while the right side of the picture is lead by sun, the left part is left completely in shadows, which is something you would expect because the lower the sun, the longer the shadows. So in this case, because there is a river between left and right side, the buildings on the right side are still sunlit. However, the payment the riverbank, the rest of the picture already shadows. So while taking pictures in the city's Remember that the light will go out sooner in streets that are perpendicular to the sun because it's will be blocked by buildings. In this case, the light becomes closer to the cloudy, overcast situation and should be treated as such. Streets parallel to sunset will enjoy sundries longer like on the picture on the left. 9. Shadow evening and sky light: shadow Evening light and skylight. Let's talk about late evening. I also call it Shadow Evening Light. So shadow evening light is the light we talked about in the previous unit. Basically, when the sun is still up, but already quite low and most part off the scenery easel rating shadow do the building structures, all natural landscapes standing in the way of sunlight. So streets maybe already too dark while the sun is still up. This kind of light, maybe already too hard for your camera toe handle due to shortage of available life. So, if possible from here now and later into the night, don't make the pictures on the go. As they may turn out to be too blurry. Consider the picture on the left. You can see that there is still quite enough like yet the street I wanted to capture is already in the evening shadow. You probably also see what's wrong with them. It it's not sharp. The details are blurry, and that is because I took the shot on the go. Now this is a shot taken moment later when I stopped and Les did not the shot. See how much more clear This one is so remember when light is limited, don't just rush around snapping pictures on the go, hoping that at least one will turn out to be okay. Make a stop, find a composition and make a shop. Skylight is the kind of light you get right before the sunrise or just after sunset. It is what it is. It is a light that comes from the sky when the sun is not present in both cases, in the morning and in the evening. Although the sun is out of the picture, it's still eliminates the sky, and you can still see around without the help of artificial light. It will normally have blue cold colors, as you can see in this picture, so up. But from not rushing through the picture process and hence minimising the possibility of glory and clear images, what else can you do? Well, my favorite thing about this light is capturing any additional artificial life. See, the picture would not be as contrast e as if it was totally dark outside. Yet artificial light will stand out and make extra pretty by this time. Normally, the restaurants, shops and other places will already turn their lights on to attract attention, so there would be a lot of photo opportunities 10. Night light: nightlife. Okay, this may be confusing, but in my classifications, nightlight is an absence off any natural life, meaning the only light that you get is artificial like in these two pictures. Once again, don't should undergo, as the light is extremely limited when no sunlight is available and same as with the late evening light, unless it is extremely late into the night. There a plaintive foot opportunities with restaurants, still one and busy with customers. Although shops may be close to already, shop windows can be another interesting photo subject. And if you want to add some extra pictures to your travel photo album but already have taken pictures off most sightings, try making two pictures off the same place one during day and another during night, you goes the same sitting will look very different like here. Or you can even implement other light settings like skylights, as here, the picture in the middle. It is already quite dark, but the skies still has some light and hence color, as opposed to picture taken later, when the skies black. So you see any lights it up can offer you something different and some getting interesting , so don't be afraid and just go for it 11. Class project: for the class project. I want you to go for your old or isn't travel pictures and find a couple of those that you like the most, both them to the class project section, along with a description, Why you like it and what kind of light it was. Maybe like me, You also have a favorite life and you haven't even thought about it, so let's see. 12. Conclusion: in this class we looked at possible lights elapse that you may encounter while traveling. We also talked about how to deal with a given light situation. But Peter's one take away that they want you to remember from this class it will be this. Don't stress out if light is not perfect, Let it go. Embrace whatever light is given to you and just try your best. After all, traveling is not about perfect images. It is about experience in the next class coming very soon, I will talk about composition and how it can help you make stronger and more interesting images. So I'll see you very soon in the next quest.