Photography by the light of midday

 Trinidad, Cuba

Morning or late afternoon light can be a great thing to photograph in villages and cities, when the light streams down the cobblestoned streets, skimming the surface of stones and walls, bringing out the texture, and creating long shadows. As photographers, we ‘live’ for that kind of light. But I learned a long time ago that there were other kinds or qualities of light that I could use in the middle of the day, and that opened up the possibilities for more photographs of the places I visited. This is a case in point: It was still morning, but the dramatic morning light was past, and the larger scenes of the streets were harshly lit. But what a great bounce light the beige dirt of the street created for this portrait of a proud fruit vendor in Trinidad, Cuba. He was in the shade of his storefront, and the light off the street created a warm glowing quality, illuminating his dark skin and his face under the straw hat. When I showed this type of light to some of the Cuba trip participants, I could see the ‘lightbulb’ go on inside them. Perhaps they hadn’t really looked closely before at different types of light, or light’s effect, because they just assumed the light wasn’t good for most things in the middle of the morning or day. But from then on, they began to really look at the light that was bouncing off everything – walls, doors, streets – you name it! And that opened up the possibilities for them, too.

So what happens if you have a dark street outside the shop? Well, you can create a similar effect with a reflector – I’ve done it many times, where someone holds the reflector out in the sunlight and bounces the light into the person’s face/body. It won’t be a large enough area to cover the entire shop like the street bounce light does above, but it still allows you to make some good portraits now and then, provided you can get someone to hold your reflector for you!


P.S. The January 2014 Cuba trip has grown to 9 people  registered, and we’ll take only 12. If you want to participate, please visit the Cuba page and click on the register now button. You’ll be asked to fill out a trip application form, and then taken to a payment page – which you can just ignore for the moment, as we are finalizing details and pricing and Strabo tours will ultimately be handling that part of the tour.

Brenda Tharp
Brenda is an award-winning photographer, author, keynote speaker, workshop instructor and tour leader. Her acclaimed books include Creative Nature and Outdoor Photography, and Extraordinary Everyday Photography.

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  1. 7 habits of effective people summary November 21, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    Incredible….such a invaluable online site.

    • Brenda November 22, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

      thank you!

  2. Brenda February 26, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    Thank you Nancy T!

  3. Nancy T February 25, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    This is wonderful….and will have to keep this in mind…
    great subject, beautiful light here