How to Photograph When the Light Sucks

Can the light really suck? Is there such a thing as bad light? What makes light suck: midday sun or dark overcast skies?

It was said by someone that ‘there is no such thing as bad light, only light used improperly’.

For outdoor photographers, light is often not what we want in the moment. It can be over cast when we want sun or a cloudless sky when we want softer light.

There is no perfect light that works for every situation and for every subject, but no matter the light conditions, none of this light should be considered bad.  Instead, poor light should be looked at as an opportunity to find subjects that work in the light of the moment.

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Exploring the Ocean with Underwater Photographer Jason Arnold

by Beth Swanson

Being a third generation commercial fisherman, underwater photographer, Jason Arnold, learned to respect marine wildlife at a very young age. He earned his sea legs almost as soon as he could walk. During his formative years in high school and college, Arnold explored his love for the sea through surfing professionally. He was an East Coast champion and placed in many international pro contests.

“Eventually,” said Arnold, “I had to get a real job.” His real job developed into a dream career. Currently, he travels the globe taking pictures of sharks, sport fish, tropical fish and all the wonders of the ocean. He gets to work with some of the top fishing and diving companies in the world, such as Cressi Dive Gear, Daiwa Reels, Yo-Zuri lures, Ocean Kayaks and many more. Arnold’s photos also regularly grace the covers and pages of Sport Fishing Magazine, The New York Times, Sports Illustrated and many more.

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Photographing With A Purpose

It’s common for photographers to wonder what they should be photographing or to ask the same of their stock agents. We all want to make money as our businesses rely on a steady stream of cash flow, but what should we photograph?

There is often no easy answer since we capture images for a client we don’t know yet if we are in the stock business. Many nature and wildlife photographers, unless on assignment, photograph what appeals to them with no client or market in mind. It can be like throwing mud and hoping it sticks.

In some ways you can look at images for license as two types: one with broad market appeal and the other with a niche market appeal.  I have done many assignments and my stock agent used to encourage me to negotiate stock usage for all my assignment images.

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The ProFolio of British Photographer James Carnegie

It’s Monday morning and I find myself back in the office drying out my cameras, flashes and SD cards after one of the hardest assignments I’ve yet shot: an overnight mountain marathon in the Cumbrian Lake District, notorious as being the wettest place in the UK (and that says something) and beyond what I had imagined when I set off on the 600 mile trip North.

Having already reached new-found levels of frustration earlier that evening, 2am on Sunday morning and I find myself trudging up-hill through knee-high snow drift, in driving rain and gale force wind to reach the furthermost checkpoint of the race. On arrival I find the marshals asleep in the small tent and the temperature rapidly dropping, so I quickly set-up tripod and shoot a few long-exposures using myself and head-torch as a subject. The conditions are serious enough to convince me that hanging around for a shot of a competitor is a bad choice. I’ve made plenty of those over the years but it’s the ability to learn from them that has driven me forward in this precarious career as an outdoor & sporting photographer.

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