My creative project is focused on documenting how the sun travels across the sky and how lighting changes throughout the day. In order to do so, I took photos of the same seven locations at different times during the day. I took photos at dawn, in the afternoon, and at dusk. Furthermore, I wanted to ensure that each of the seven locations I chose to photograph offered a unique perspective. With this goal in mind, I chose a wide variety of locations to explore how sunlight is affected by different factors. There are four indoor locations and three outside ones. Three of the indoors locations have north-west facing windows. The last indoor location has a south-west facing window. The outside photos are taken facing south, south-east and east. To continue, taking the photos facing different directions allows a deeper insight to how the sun’s path interacts with earth.
Through the photos, I better understand what parts of my house receive sunlight and when. Some locations where I had thought there would be a large change in appearance only had a slight adjustment. There are certain factors that have influenced this outcome. For one, there were obstructions to the sunlight that I had not originally taken into account. Because of these interferences in sunlight, some parts of the house were never fully illuminated. As a result, some photos rely heavily on the hue of light in the photo to indicate the sun’s position. In regards to the sun’s light temperature, cloudy, overcast skies presents the bluest hues. On the other side of the spectrum, the warmest lighting occurs during sunrise and sunset. Right in the middle, neutral lighting is due to daylight at noon. In the photos, the viewer can notice the slight variations in lighting temperature as the day progresses, as well as between the sunny and cloudy day.
In a sense, the photos are acting as a modern, not very accurate, sundial. Sundials work by measuring the sun’s movement across the sky based off of shadows. By a similar manner, the way the light interacts with these locations can become an indicator of what time of day it is. This idea is most noticeable for the photos taken outside. Opposed to tracking the time of day due to the shadow cast by the sun, the viewer can track the time of day through how the patch of sun moves across the yard. Again, this is due to the obstructions of sunlight that were present in my backyard.
The path that the sun takes as it crosses the sky can be influenced by multiple factors. Throughout the year, the sun’s path varies slightly. The Earth has an axial tilt of around 23.5° which affects the sun’s placement in the sky. Therefore, if I were to repeat this project during a different month but still photographing during the same hours, the locations would appear dramatically different. Another intriguing project would be to photograph the same location at the same time throughout the year to track the sun’s movement at varying times of the year. Furthermore, weather can influence the way light travels as well. Clouds disperse light, creating even lighting throughout the day. Because of these factors, it was important to photograph the locations both on a sunny day and on a cloudy day to see how the different lighting affects the image. Notably, there is less variation in both shadows and coloration in photos taken on the cloudy day than compared to photos taken on the sunny day.
During this process, there were a couple things that I noticed. First, capturing the subtle differences in lighting with a camera can be difficult. There are multiple factors that could have influenced this difficulty. The lack of variety in lighting on the cloudy day plays a significant role. Throughout the day, there was little need to change the camera settings. In comparison, the camera settings had to be altered almost every time a new photo was taken on the sunny day. When more light is introduced, the camera settings need to be more specific. The uniformity of the diffused lighting, on the other hand, did not need drastic camera alterations.
Overall, this project helps explain how lighting interacts with the appearance of a location. There are times of day and weather conditions that make photography easier and more “beautiful.” For consistent lighting and no harsh shadows, a cloudy day is perfect. Warm, sun-soaked images require a sunny day, preferably around golden hour. Lighting can affect the mood of photography in dramatic ways, as seen through this project.