This week’s theme is dappled light. Something I often avoid, dappled light can create some interesting effects. Dappled light is when spots of light come through something like trees, leaving bright and dark spots on your subject.
Above is an example of unintentional dappled light, taken many years ago before I really learned to see light well. Notice that the bright and dark spots on people’s faces are random and unflattering. This would have been better taken from the other side with the sun behind them. These days, I usually try to avoid dappled light, but it can be used purposefully with interesting effect.
To avoid it, either try to find a solid patch of shade or put your subjects with the sun at their backs (backlight). I used backlight in the photo above, which prevented dappled light from hitting my subjects and left them in nice, even shade. Notice the dapple on the grass, which makes the space a bit more interesting.
If you want to actually have dapple hit your subjects, try putting the light in front and let it hit them directly. From above or the side can work too. Above are some examples of intentional dappled light. It can create some pretty bokeh in the trees and create a moody feeling for your subjects. But you have to be careful where the light falls. Pay attention to the shadows on people’s faces to make sure it looks good. Another important thing to consider is your exposure. You’ll want to expose so your highlights don’t go pure white (ie. get blown out). To do this, try metering off the highlights.
You can create dapple in the usual way by using trees, but you can also create dapple by holding lace or a loosely knit/crochet blanket up between your light source and your subject. This will create a more artsy, dramatic dapple than the examples I showed above. I might try this myself this week.
If you have any questions, join us in the Facebook group. I’ll be checking in there daily to see your work and help you achieve the best results.
If you’re just finding this now, you can check out the full list and more information on the challenge here. You can follow me on Instagram at @documentyourdaytoday and use the hashtag #documentyour2021.