Finding the Light | April {Dappled Light}

I decided April would be the perfect time to work with some dappled light. The light that makes its way through the leaves of trees and in between the blinds in your windows, and casts some of the most magical light onto the space it falls on. This kind of light can make just about anything interesting; I often find myself capturing just the dappled light, not caring that my children are no where near my camera. When the light comes through the leaves that are blowing in the wind, and dances all over the floor, my children’s faces, their toys; I see that when looking back at my photos. I see those dancing leaves, and it makes the photograph feel more alive. In this type of lighting, the shadows become just as important as the light and sometimes it’s what you can’t see that becomes the most interesting part of the dappled-lit photograph.

When you’re first starting out as a photographer, and you’re learning the rules, dappled light is often one of those things you’re taught to stray away from. You’ll hear about how it’s distracting and takes away from the subject of your photo. Now, in some cases it isn’t ideal, but when used well, it can add so much mood and interest to your photo. When exposing for a photo lit this way, you of course want to expose for the lightest part of your subject. If you expose for the shadows, the light parts are going to be too bright and most likely blown. So in this first photo, I simply exposed for the lit part of his face. In some photos, such as the one below, I want to bring back some details in those shadowed areas. Not too much, but just enough that you can get a glimpse of what’s going on just outside the light. So, in ACR (you can do the same in LR), I will pull up the shadow slider a bit and sometimes decrease the blacks. These are just a couple things that I do in my images to bring a little extra balance to a harshly lit photograph. It’s not always needed, or wanted, but realizing that you can tweak these things is a good thing.

I know this type of lighting can be somewhat challenging to work in, but I hope you’ll meet the challenge head on and learn something new. Being willing and able to make use of any type of light will do wonders for your work. As always, I’ve provided you with plenty of examples to go with the new theme. I can’t wait to see what you all produce this month!

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Please also remember that I am not a stickler when it comes to rules. I have very few rules actually. I only ask that you produce some new images this month, based on the theme, and use those for your submissions for possible feature on my blog. If you have a vision for this theme or any future theme, please go with it and don’t be scared or worried that it doesn’t “fit” the theme. My ideas and your ideas are going to be different and that is perfectly ok. That’s what sets us apart and makes our work unique.


This is one of my favorite dappled-lit photographs. I used the light here to show how my littlest loves to come into his sisters room and get into her things. The light is fairly subtle, but highlights his curiosity, and all the spots of pink so well.


In the photo above, the dappled light brings attention to those sweet baby toes. Leaving the shadowed areas fairly dark, keeps the viewers attention there, but brings a bit of mystery to the mood of the image.



Using dappled lighting brings interest to the simplest of subjects. There are often little pieces of our surroundings that we’d like to remember, and using interesting lighting to photograph them in brings magic to these otherwise seemingly mundane objects.


This image was taken in our carport where there’s a concrete wall and a tin roof, with a fairly sizable space in between the two. As the sun is setting, the light comes in and provides interesting dappled lighting on the opposing wall. There was a little spot of light that dipped down and was at just the right height for my daughter to stand in and soak up that sun.


Dappled lighting highlights a morning spent taking cushions off the couch and having a little boxing match with the remaining cushions.


In the image above, his face is just outside of where the bright, dappled light is, but there was just enough light in the room to keep his face bright enough to be a focal point in the photograph. Letting important parts of your subject fall into the shadows can definitely work as long as the situation lends itself to doing so.


The morning light coming in through the trees outside the window, made for a great setting for this still life photography.


Morning light coming in through the blinds in the window.




Just a little bit of light coming through the mostly closed curtains at sunset, gives this photo of my littlest waiting in the doorway more depth and mood.


The shadows and water reflecting up onto my daughter and the building, provide interesting patterns in this image of an evening swim.

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