Welcome to the first episode of Steady Focused! I am your host, your teacher, your friend, your student ... Simeon Hendrix. For the past 4 years, I've worked at Hoegger Communications, an award winning creative advertising agency based in Wichita Falls, Texas. I'm fortunate to have worked through the ranks from a graphic designer, to videographer and photographer. Today, most of my work is related to the camera (photoshoots, commercials, mini-documentaries, etc.). I'm a ferocious learner. I love the camera and do lots of photography and video work on my own as passion projects as well.
There are many different places we could have started for episode one, but the basis of everything, is light and the absence of light in regards to capturing an image. How do we capture that light? How do we use the light to set the mood and reinforce our narrative? Do we need to bring in external lights or can we use the available ambient light? These are questions we will ask ourselves. Now, I'm not just talking about studio lights and flash, while that is a section or division of the lighting world, that's not what I mean when I say it's all about light.
Let's take a look at the very basics of how a camera works - light enters the lens, burns into the sensor, creating an image. The duration of the light, the intensity of the light, the angle of the light, the amount of light on your subject, all of that produces the image. There are many ways to manipulate the light - both externally within the real world as well as internally within your camera. We will get into the nuts and bolts of all that in a later episode, but for now I want you take the idea that photography and filmmaking = light and light manipulation.
Let's take a look at a few different scenes. Notice how the presence of or the absence of light effects the way the story is presented. We will get into specific camera and light settings to achieve the shots below in a later episode, today, just soak in the differences.
The Golden Hour
Ever heard someone say the term "Golden Hour?" That refers to the time each day around sunrise and sunset, where the outside natural light is 'perfect'. There is no direct sunlight. A soft and beautiful light falls on our subject. No harsh shadows. This is an awesome time to shoot, and you need no additional equipment!
Below is a video I shot close to and during the golden hour. We wanted to drive home the visual of a woman, working hard until the sun goes down. Notice how the available light reinforces the story. This commercial has been one of the most successful releases for Four Stars Auto Ranch and got tremendous reach, interaction and traction across social platforms as well as broadcast.
But why is the sun's light different at different times of the day?
Take a look below at the three photos of the First Texas Building in downtown Wichita Falls. All photos are shot from the same position, with the same camera, with only available light. But look how different they are. Notice the shadows.
On the left at 8am, notice the sun rising over the left of the building. Notice the long shadows. In the middle we are close to high noon (1pm). Notice the very short shadows. Notice the harsh contrast between the street and the building. On the right we are close to 6:45pm, notice we're getting a nice lighting of the building as well as the sky above. We do still have some severe shadows in the street.
As the earth turns, the direction of the sun's light shifts. This is the same concept as a sundial, which was the earliest form of time keeping used by the ancients. Put a stick in the ground in the morning and watch the stick's shadow move as the day progresses. The Earth's rotation is what causes sunrise and sunset. It takes 24 hours for the earth to compete one revolution, one complete spin. The sun never moves. The sun is stationary. The earth spins on its own axis while also traveling around the sun. One trip around the sun is 365.25 days (one year). One spin on Earth's axsis is 24 hours. But what's a month? Good question! A month is the time it takes for the moon to do one complete revolution around the Earth (around 28 days).
Set a cup on a desk or table. Notice the way the cup is lit. Notice where the shadows fall. Now, grab a flashlight. Shine the light directly on the cup. Notice shadows. Turn off the over head lights in the room off if you haven't already and shine the flashlight on the cup again. Ah, now notice the shadows. Move the light to the left, to the right, above, below, behind the cup. Each placement of light reveals a different view of the cup, it tells a different story. We can use these shadows or lack of shadows to reinforce our story in our photographs and in our movies. Each is correct in their own way. It all depends on the type of story we are wanting to tell.
So there you go guys. Light is the basis of everything! We absolutely will dive more in depth with light as we move forward. We'll discuss camera settings, light placement, types of artificial light, light manipulators, lighting on a budget, lighting when money is no object, etc. But for today, the key concept that I want you simmer on is this - photography and filmmaking is all about light. The manipulation of, the removal of and the addition of light.
Review time. Key terms we discussed today:
Light - the most absolute basic element needed to capture an image, photograph or video.
High Key - total white background behind our subject
Low Key - total black background behind our subject
Final Thought - Feeding Our Brain
I'm a big fan of listening to audio books and podcasts that encourage growth, self examination, positivity and pursing our natural divine calling. Every episode I'll share with you a piece that's impacted me during the week.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
I'd often heard this book referenced as a must have on the book by many successful creatives. I've already listened through the book twice and am working on my third pass. If you have any yearning for growth, peace and advancement not only as an artist, but as a human... get this book.
You can pick it up for free on Audible.com if it's your first time to use the site (which I highly recommend).
I want to hear from you!
What did you think about this episode? What would you like to see covered in future episodes? Please, leave a comment below! Let's keep the channels of communication open.
Thanks guys. I'll see you soon!