Light is Location – Talk by Kate Hopewell-Smith

This talk was a free event provided by Amateur Photographer and Nikon (of whom Kate is an ambassador) and I was lucky enough to bag a ticket.

Kate’s website is here http://www.katehopewellsmith.com/

Her talk gave a background to her career which surprisingly only began in 2007 and is, as she pointed out an example of what can be achieved in the industry (even in this time of increased competition – I would add)  I liked the quote she used – “In the right light at the right time everything is extraordinary – Aaron Rose”  – and I have to confess that I hadn’t heard of Mr Rose, but agree 100% with his comment.

What I found most interesting and clearly pertinent to the part of the course I am now doing, is her use of natural light.

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Copyright by Kate Hopewell – Smith. image used with permission.

Kate explained that she used the full canvas of the setting with one powerful key-light – the sun. She pointed out that the modern digital camera, for all its strengths, is still a computer which reads reflected light and fails in tricky light conditions.  She shoots manually and does not “pre scout” locations as light cant always be anticipated, and meters for the highlights.

She had a list of some pointers for producing good natural light work:-

Front Light

  • Not good for form enhancing
  • Location should be based on direction of light
  • Overcast light not good for portraits
  • Make sure you can see the colour of the subject’s eyes
  • differentiate between portrait (ie directed) light and location light
  • flat light requires more work on composition
  • direct sun not good for portraits – squinting.
Side light (“In order for the light to shine so brightly the darkness must be present” – Francis Bacon)
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Copyright by Kate Hopewell – Smith. image used with permission.

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Copyright by Kate Hopewell – Smith. image used with permission.

  • Form enhancing but takes precision to get right
  • Chiaroscuro (Check out here:- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiaroscuro)
  • easier to work with individuals than groups*
  • Use window for light source (Jane Bown?)
  • Not flattering for skin
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Copyright by Kate Hopewell – Smith. image used with permission.

Back light
  • rim light or silhouette
  • can give warmth (glow)
  • may need to add light if subject in shadow -reflected light – add as needed

Additional Light

Flash added using TTL fill flash not spot metered starting at -2 stops flash exposure compensation.
 She used as an example a scene from 12 Years A Slave to illustrate the power of good lighting.
*I can verify this from personal experience some years ago I tried to do a copy of the With the Beatles album with my four kids, this is the nearest I got:-
with the browns
Many thanks to Kate for allowing me to use her images.
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