The Results of Shining a light into “Low Light”

The subject for June’s online competition was “Low Light” and an interesting set of interpretations had been uploaded for consideration this month. The judge for this month was Nigel Hazell and we hope he hasn’t suffered any eye strain examining the dim entries (not entrants). He has deliberated and here are his comments.

I am not even going to attempt to define low light photography in the space that this column allows. Suffice to say your entries this month, illustrate different approaches and some great ideas for this particular genre. Whatever your definition of low light photography, it is absolutely certain from a technical point of view that you will have been balancing shutter speed with aperture and ISO. The use of tripod might have been, but not necessarily essential and supplementary lighting may have also been used to offer subject illumination. So with no further ado here are my thoughts on the 12 images.

There are some beautiful colours straking across the floor from the stained glass in ‘Lincoln Cathedral’. I like the way that this leads the viewer towards the windows in the top half of the image. Hi-lights on the floor could have been darkened and so made less distracting.
‘Evening over West Beach Whitby’ is an atmospheric shot taken in stunning light as the sunsets. The silhouettes add a human element to the image and the quality of the water and it’s wave lines add to the dynamic nature of this composition. Perhaps a small crop could be taken off the right hand side.
There is a technicolor feel to ‘Hemisphere’  with many interesting reflections in this busy image. I like the inclusion of the figure as it offers scale to the structure. The green light on the floor to the right draws my eye and could perhaps be darkened.
The colours and gradation in the sky of ‘Sunrise at Whitby’ are wonderful and add to the impact of the silhouetted structure. The photographer has carefully used this building to obscure the sun which I feel adds extra impact. A higher or lower viewpoint would have moved the horizon which is placed centrally.
In ‘Can’t Sleep’ the author has cleverly used a smart phone to illuminate the model’s face. I like the composition and crop of this image. The cool colour balance of the image adds to the atmosphere.
‘Infinity Bridge’ is a shot which illustrates well the form of this stunning bridge and its reflection. Perhaps a shot taken earlier in the ‘blue hour’ after sunset would have added a little light to the sky and texture to the water.
Someone (I hope!) had great fun here with the imaginative shot entitled ‘Watering Hole’ . A mono shot this, which has a wide range of tones although a little bright along the upper edge of ‘the Savannah’.  Removing or repositioning a couple of the elephants would I believe strengthen this shot. Henry Moore would approve…
‘Lantern Festival Drummer’ has some vibrant colours made even punchier by this night shot. As with a couple of other images in this set I would have liked to have seen it taken earlier in the evening. The out of focus areas in the foreground do add to the feel of this shot although ultimately they prove to be a distraction.
I like the way the window light brings out rafter detail and helps to pick out the workers in ‘Erecting the Screen’. Cropping in closer to these areas would have removed the brighter areas in this image.
The ‘Cunard Building’ is an iconic Victorian structure in Liverpool. The lighting in this monochrome image brings out its wonderful architectural detailing. Once again a little light in the sky would add to the image.
The square format of ‘China Girl’ suits this image. The colours are striking and the background suitably subdued apart from the hi-light on the second dancer’s belt. Perhaps a higher shutter speed would have reduced the slight movement I can see on my screen; alternatively a longer speed could have introduced a greater feel of movement.
‘Drops’ is another monochrome image in the set. It is a strikingly crisp image of rivulets and droplets of water on glass. I would have liked to see this shot in colour as I feel this would give greater insight into the ‘low light’ aspect.
Finally we have ‘Fireworks Reflected in the Sea’ in which a high viewpoint has helped the author capture the dramatic reflections. I would have liked to see a less tightly framed shot as the boats and people add to the context of the shot. A vignette could then have been added to reduce their brightness. Alternatively zooming in would give the photographer the opportunity to concentrate on the reflections.
Thank you for your entries, I have enjoyed looking at these varied images and have awarded ‘Watering Hole’ and ‘Whitby Sunset’ commended. In third place is ‘Lincoln Cathedral’ with ‘Can’t Sleep’ taking the second slot. Pole position for me though goes to ‘Evening over West Beach Whitby’.
Nigel Hazell LRPS

Thanks for the comprehensive notes, Nigel and now to put some names to the images. Commended werer Paul Watt for “Watering Hole” and Keith Barras for “Whitby Sunset”. In third place was Peter Wells with “Lincoln Cathedral” and in second was Angela Crutchley-Rhodes with “Can’t Sleep”. However, walking off into the sunset with first place was Trevor Bottomley with “Evening over West Beach, Whitby”. Well done to all. Have a look at them all yourself – and if you think to yourself “I could do better than that” then why not have a go next month when the subjects is “Interiors”.

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