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Does The Amount Of Light Really Matter? What Is Your Take?

We all know how various aspects of light affect the final photograph. Amongst these are temperature, angle, quality (soft vs hard), etc. See Lighting and its features. At the time of writing that article and experimenting whether the amount of light has got anything to do with the final photograph I concluded that changing the amount of light didn’t have any direct impact on the photograph.

However there are other factors at play with respect to the amount of light. The amount of light may not have any direct impact on the output, it definitely presents itself as a constraint around which you, the photographer has to work to make that it’s a good capture. Let’s see how:

Today’s latest cameras, be it the compacts or the DSLRs, are designed to perform at extremely high ISOs. That’s because when you shoot in dim light, ISO comes into play and brings with itself a noise-grain which is not very flattering to the photograph. And once you get this grain, you are left to the mercy of grain removing plugins etc.

That brings in another twist: why do we need flash at all? Guess the amount of light matters after all. May be not in the output itself, but during the capture phase it certainly does (after all photography is about capturing the light).

The exposure triangle is basically trying to control light. While the amount of light may have no direct impact on the end result, it nevertheless is a constraint. Given that you are shooting in low light, the exposure triangle has little control over light (since it is hardly any). You can choose to use slow shutter-speed. But you’d not like the way portraits come out in that setting. Almost always there’s motion blur which needs hours to clear our during post-production.

I’m not asking you to upgrade to a better camera which can shoot in low light. The point is that the amount of light does matter. What do you say?

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4 comments… add one
  • Jose Aug 31, 2012 @ 1:13

    I think that amount of light have also a direct impact in color saturation. I have been looking for any document or study about this with no luck. It would be nice if more readers could post links that help clarify this.

  • photoman022 Aug 31, 2012 @ 7:15

    I believe the amount of light has a direct impact on the image. If you have people in a sunset situation, do you want them illuminated or silhouetted? Two very different lighting scenarios with two very different outcomes.

    I was out shooting today and overexposed some of the photos; I retook the photos and, when I viewed them on the computer, I could see the difference. The amount of light impacted the photos.

    The photo in the article would be dramatically (not necessarily for the better) if you exposed for the opening and then strategically lit the inside and the model. Which would have been better? I don’t know but the amount of light would have directly impacted the new photo.

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