Light Through The Day

My brief for this exercise was trickier than it first seemed proving again what a cruel mistress light is regarding photography. On the face of it the exercise was straight forward. Take a series of photographs through the day, from sun up to sun down.  The ‘day’ needed to be a sunny one to demonstrate how the colour of the light changes throughout the day. In fact this exercise comes way out of sequence due to the amount of time it took me to get all these images on a sunny day. In all it took me  5-6 days to collect all the images from one sunny ‘day’. Singapore, although tropical, rarely has a whole sunny day. Indeed, blue skies are quite rare and often remarked upon when they do appear. So some of these photographs are taken under haze and light cloud as by 3pm, almost everyday, you can guarantee storm clouds gathering to deluge the country with their ill-gotten gains, the humidity reaching saturation point. My series starts at 645am, the sun still hiding behind the houses out of shot on the right hand side, and ends shortly after 630pm as the sun heads fast for the horizon. I made a point of making more images at the beginning and end of the day when the sun moves rapidly from and to the horizon. The series is below, in chronological order and I shall comment on the photographs in that order. The camera’s white balance was set to ‘daylight’ for the duration to ensure continuity.

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The first two shots, taken 10 minutes apart are extremely blue. My camera sees it like this. My eyes, at the time, did not. So my camera is set to ‘daylight’, however, what I had failed to take in to account was that the sun had not yet risen above the houses to the east. This meant that in the shadow the street lights were still on causing my camera’s white balance to give a blue cast to the image. By the third image taken only five minutes later the street lights are still on but as the sun rises it warms the scene appreciably. By the fourth image the street lights are off and the images take on a much more natural colour. The scene continues to warm up until around image 7 when the warmth starts to fade, this is around 11am. The colourless light is caused by the sun being high in the sky and closer to the earth giving the rays less of the earth’s atmosphere to travel through and therefore ‘less’ colour. This trend continues until suddenly, on image 12, the shadows lengthen as the sun starts to move directly above and beyond it’s apex. The shadow lengthens and then, by image 15, disappears altogether under the awnings. On image 16 the white light can be seen reflecting clearly off the left hand side of the house nearest the camera, under the street light. The sun is already on it’s way down. By now it is around 4pm and the sun is still relatively high in the sky as can be seen by the angle cast on the same house in image 17. But the sun is falling fast from the sky. During the final three shots I would have expected the scene to warm again but in fact it looks like taking on a blue hue again and cools down towards the end of the day. I attribute this to the shadows cast on the eastern faces of the houses, unfortunately my position didn’t allow me to see the sky or surfaces on the western side.

My preference, in this instance, is for the images taken when the sun is high in the sky. Deeper shadows under the awnings and the ‘colourless’ light making more of the red roof tiles. If I had been asked beforehand which would have been my favourite time to shoot I would have said early morning for the softness of light and the richer colour. All-in-all I am not a big fan of the scene as a whole. To static and lacking in enough variety of surfaces and colours to give it the dynamism that I would prefer. This location was chosen for convenience!

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