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Light in Photography -   LIGHTING - Sunlight - Effect of Time of day - First Light

First light

As a photographer, I use the term first light ( Last Light ) to define a time when there is some ambient light in the sky but we have lost perception of colour. This happens because special cells in the retina, called rods register black and white only - these are more sensitive to light than the cones which read colour. Even though we can see it there is still enough light to take photographs and register colour. Again how long this light lasts depends upon your post ion on the earth and the time of year. In summer it is longer in winter shorter.




While our eyes my not be able to decipher colours - we see the scene indistinctly in black and white - when we make an extended exposure with either film or digital we find the medium will register colour we don't perceive. With both digital and film it is possible to have extended exposure times of 30 seconds, minutes or even hours in conditions where we can hardly see at all. The ambient light when capturing this image was so dark I needed a torch light to see where I was walking. Look how the water has a wonderful luminance reflected the sky and how the grass in the foreground is blurred through wind movement during the long exposure.



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