Chasing the Light 1 June 2021   

Keiran Metcalf BPE1* joined us on Zoom! from the Peak District to give us his presentation entitled Chasing the Light, sub-titled Confessions of a Sunburst Junkie.
He started by giving us some insight into his equipment, based around a Canon EOS 80D, mostly bought second hand. He then told us that a defining moment in his photographic journey was when he heard someone say that ”you can tell you’re with a photographer - they are always banging on about the light”. As a result, he started looking for and using light and the different styles of light in his photography.
The structure of Keiran’s talk took us through a range of different types of light, starting with Shooting into the Sun. Illustrated with many impressive images of sun bursts and more diffuse light, he covered the challenges of composing with the sun in the image. He pointed out that changing one’s point of view and timing of the shot can have a big influence on the vibrance in the image.
He talked about side lighting, which can bring out the shapes and contours in the landscape. He said that atmospheric conditions can affect the light. Rain can soften the light, but colours can be vibrant after the rain, as Keiran showed in an image of Salford Quays. During the day the light can be very harsh, but clouds can soften it and create good conditions. Keiran also advised getting into woodland areas where the sun is shaded. He showed us an image of a sunlit sapling against a shaded woodland backdrop to illustrate how contrasting light can work.

KM DragonKeiran suggested that when conditions are poor differing effects can be obtained using different focal lengths. Longer focal lengths in fog, for example, can foreshorten distances making more interesting images. Storm clouds, he said, can create tremendous atmosphere and drama. Keiran stated that, when conditions are poor, composition becomes even more important to successful photography. But sometimes, he pointed out, it is worth waiting for the light to change as interesting light can result from changes in conditions. Wind can blow clouds away, fog may burn off as the sun rises, and light can improve as the sun reflects off the underside of clouds after sunset.
Keiran talked about the glow that can be created during the blue hour and beyond, pointing out that, with longer exposures, the camera can pull out more detail than the eye can see, especially after dark. He talked us through a number of techniques for taking images at night, covering star trails, noctilucent clouds, and how to reduce noise in the resulting images.
In his final section, called Do You Feel Lucky, Keiran talked about the methods and benefits of planning your photography trips and mentioned a number of apps that can help with the planning process. He admitted, however, that the best laid plans can sometimes not work out, but that good images can still be obtained with a bit of persistence.
Throughout his presentation, Keiran illustrated each point with a range of wonderful images, showing just how much work he puts in to his photography. After a few questions, David Wilkinson thanked Keiran for his marvellous presentation and the attendees showed their appreciation with hand-claps. DF