The effect of natural lighting and composition on photos

Sameer Makanjee, Contributor

The Effect of Natural Lighting and Composition on photos by Sameer Makanjee


PHOTO #1 (Taken outside of NYC iSchool, in September)

PHOTO #2 (Also taken outside of NYC iSchool, in September)

PHOTO #3 (Taken on roof of iSchool, in October)

PHOTO #4 (Taken in London, May 2019)

When I was taking my first photo, I realized that I thought it was actually a much better photo than I anticipated it to be. Then, I thought about what makes it a good photo. This thought-process is what led me to choose the theme of composition/the effects of lighting in photography. I chose these images to represent my work because I think they all highlight the effects of lighting, and at least three of them have clear details which showcase specific composition. My first two photos were taken in the middle of the day, around 12 pm (noon). My last two photos were a little later in the day, before nighttime, at around 3-6 pm. My specific inspiration was originally someone who took photos on their roof, I cannot recall their names, but I saw their work on the iNews website and the name of their work was called ‘Sky Gazing’. I took half of my photos in my backyard and half of them outside/on the roof of our school. When I look at my photos, the first thing that comes to my mind is the lighting and composition of the photo, but this might be because this was the main aspect of my photos that I focused on or because it is what I naturally notice when looking at a new photo. I expected my photos to look mainly how they came out, I was fine with however they came out as long as they showcased the importance of lighting and composition. I was content with my first two photos, but my last two I felt really helped me accomplish the theme I wanted to show. 

My first photo, which is just regular candid shot of myself, showcases me sitting on a bench, and making an expression as if to say I was pondering a big decision, but it does showcase a bit of composition, as it was important for me to be sitting down on the bench because it affects my posing in the photo. However, this photo does not showcase natural lighting as much as the other photos. To go into more detail on why I chose this images to represent my work, it comes down to the last three photos, which really inflict my message. My second photo, taken at around 12 pm, has really bright sunlight and highlights the colors in the photo really well. The sunlight enhances the bright-yellow on the table and also helps enhance the green-ish shirt I am wearing. These components come together to create a very interesting background to the photo, but still help portray the subject of the photo (me) well, as I look ‘content’ and am browsing my phone in the photo. This photo also shows a feeling of ‘content’ and ‘happiness’ depending on the person who looks at it. In the third photo, taken at around 3 pm on the roof of iSchool, there are multiple buildings surrounding the subject of the photo. The subject of the photo is two taller buildings which are reflecting onto each other, due to the natural lighting provided by the sun/clouds. This photo really does my theme justice as it completely shows the importance of lighting, as the lighting in the photo is providing the reflection which is the main component of the photo, but it also showcases a feeling of ‘melancholy’ because of the grey sky. My last photo, which is from the heroes/superheroes theme, also contributes a great deal to my message/theme. This photo has a ‘heroic’ or in other words, a ‘majestic’ feel to it because it appears as if I am standing at a very high point. It has a great view of the city (London) and the canal between the two sides of the city. This not only showcased my theme of composition, because the background was incorporated into the photo, but it also showcases my specific hero I chose to portray, Batman. It showcases Batman because often Batman perches at a very high point over Gotham before he is about to do something heroic. This is exactly what I wanted to portray in my photo.

When I was taking all of these photos, I was always thinking in the back of my mind ‘how can I really incorporate natural lighting and composition/background into my photo’ because I was always looking to show my theme. Some ideas and feelings I was trying to capture in these images is the feelings of melancholy, content, and naturalness because I wanted my photos to also feel natural/candid. I captured these feelings by using the components I mentioned above when taking my photos. I would like the viewer to respond to these in however way they feel, because I think all my photos can be interpreted in multiple ways, especially to me. I also think that art and photography itself is expressive so people must take away their own themes from my photos.