A Simple Exercise to help You Learn to See Light - Digital Photography School

A Simple Exercise to help You Learn to See Light

In this video photographer Joel Edelman shares how he first began to ‘see’ light with a simple Egg.

Once you’ve viewed the video and have tried it for yourself – share you pictures and reflections on the exercise in comments below.

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • http://jeffejensen.blogspot.com Jeff E Jensen

    This is a great exercise. I actually saw this in an old photography book a couple of years ago and gave it a try. Here’s a couple of the images:

    http://blog.jeffejensenphotography.com/2010/03/eggs.html

  • Doug

    I call ‘Shopped egg’! Looks like too much post production HDR to me! ;-)

    Great video and plays well with the Lambo vid.

  • Scottc

    Seems like common sense, but this exercise does make it’s point.

    A similar, not so good, example…sometimes you can’t change or wait out the light you have…

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/6921929203/

  • raghavendra

    I have tried this long back.
    The shape of egg in light is mesmerizing and the shadows give effects

    you can see the magic of light in this colors of nature picture
    http://raghavendra-mobilephotography.blogspot.com/2012/01/colors-of-nature.html

  • http://blogs.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/ Mridula
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationsonn nation
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationsonn nation

    here’s another. I think the lighting makes this photo.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationsonn/7048232617/in/photostream

  • http://www.wildlifeencounters.eu steve slater

    As well as objects and people light is equally important for outdoors photography.
    Every place, every time and every day the light is different and presents new challenges and opportunities.
    I notice this in particular as I travel a lot and everywhere I go the light is different. You may think sunlight is sunlight but it is not. The sunlight in, for instance, in the Mediterranean is very different to the UK and different again to Africa.
    The important lesson from this video is that of awareness of this.
    The use of low light here but capturing a sunburst was challenge.

    http://wildlifeencounters.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/African-Wild-Flowers-and-Trees/G0000LbJPJO_3rCA/I0000xAYsQ1jUJ_s

  • http://gottgraphicsdesign.com Brenda

    Shooting eggs was an assignment in my beginner digital photography class as well – here was my submission:

    http://flic.kr/p/6CrFor

  • http://disney-photography-blog.blogspot.com/ Alexx

    I love playing with light for added dynamics in photographs.

    http://disney-photography-blog.blogspot.com/

  • Dan

    My only question is, how do you get the egg to stand up?

  • Average Joe

    Hmm. Makes SOME sense, but I think I’ll have to try it in person…

  • Zman

    Great message and exercise. Please fix the audio.

  • Terry

    That was the first question I had too, Dan.

  • Jay

    Break the bottom of the egg slightly to make it stand up, or put some salt under it to make it stand up. Seems like a cool exercise! I will try it.

  • http://www.pocketfullofmemorycards.blogspot.com Suzan Wood-Young

    I find it interesting that one of the first things we drew in a beginning drawing class I took was an egg.

  • http://www.jaicatalano.com/blog.html Jai Catalano

    This is an eggcelent video and his eggsample is great. I will try this eggercise soon. Eggsactly when I don’t know.

  • http://www.nzphotoworkshops.com Allan Cox

    great idea, I’ll use this exercise on my students!

  • http://neophytephotographer.wordpress.com Carissa

    Our instructor made us light a ball, cube and cylinder. Same lesson!
    [eimg url='http://neophytephotographer.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/snedekerc_art235_proj-1_14_print.jpg' title='snedekerc_art235_proj-1_14_print.jpg']

  • http://neophytephotographer.wordpress.com Carissa

    Our instructor had us light a ball, cube, and cylinder. Lesson is the same: See the light!
    http://neophytephotographer.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/day-32-assignment/

  • http://funmommie.blogspot.com Elizabeth

    Here are my “eggs”. I love the Spaceship Earth!

    http://funmommie.blogspot.com/2012/04/easter-photos.html

  • Zoya Tariq

    Very useful tutorial
    Here’s my experiment:
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/zoyatrq/7073834259/' title='Day 85.365' url='http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7256/7073834259_19709a46c3.jpg']

  • Zoya Tariq

    Very useful tutorial
    Here’s my experiment:
    http://flic.kr/p/bM6ftD

  • http://www.gplus.to/charlieobrien Tom Leparskas

    broken video link – N/A – April 13, 2012

  • http://www.filmedonkohtao.com Rosemary Allen

    Absolutely great demonstration of the principles of understanding light, I will certainly be taking this exercise to my video students

  • Andre

    Thank you for this tutorial.
    I consider myself to be a beginner and I think I will always be a beginner. I am also a newbie to DPS.
    After 35 years, as a keen amature, considering photography to be a hobby, the light was turned on for me by this tutorial. I have eventually seen the light, not merely looking at it. I did not use an egg to do the exercise, I used a sculpture of a Rhino.
    BOOM the light came on. I feel like a blonde (sorry Blondes) experiencing a bright moment.
    We all know, photography is the art of painting with light, but do we really SEE the light? I may be overly excited, with good reason I believe. I no longer look at objects, I see a subject in every object I look at.
    Now I really understand why some Photographers always take WOW pictures and the rest of us may take bright, sharp, correctly composed and exposed pictures, but the WOW’s are hundreds of pictures apart.
    Am I crazy, getting so excited about so little, or is it perhaps the only leg photography stands on, LIGHT?

    My hobby is now turning into a passion, and I hope, never to leave my camara at home again.

    Thank you Joel, Darren and all passionate Photographers for sharing, what you know, with others like myself.
    SEE the LIGHT!!!!!!!!!

  • http://neophytephotographer.wordpress.com Carissa

    Andre, I couldn’t have said it better. It is All About seeing the light, and being able to use the light too! Or making your own!

    I’m challenged every day by this addiction I have. :)

  • http://www.sieraimages.com Siera

    Brilliant!! Glad to see someone else using the same view on light and shadow I do, Joe thank you for creating and sharing this video. Adds weight to the fuss I’ve had for years with some photographers about learning to see light through an artist’s eye and becoming aware of how it affect’s the subject.

  • http://www.taylordimage.wordpress.com Patty

    This was a fabulous exercise for my second year high school students. What I had been trying to teach them for three months clicked with this lesson on the egg! THANK YOU for posting this.

Some older comments

  • Patty

    January 4, 2013 05:18 pm

    This was a fabulous exercise for my second year high school students. What I had been trying to teach them for three months clicked with this lesson on the egg! THANK YOU for posting this.

  • Siera

    April 23, 2012 09:00 am

    Brilliant!! Glad to see someone else using the same view on light and shadow I do, Joe thank you for creating and sharing this video. Adds weight to the fuss I've had for years with some photographers about learning to see light through an artist's eye and becoming aware of how it affect's the subject.

  • Carissa

    April 19, 2012 11:27 pm

    Andre, I couldn't have said it better. It is All About seeing the light, and being able to use the light too! Or making your own!

    I'm challenged every day by this addiction I have. :)

  • Andre

    April 19, 2012 06:48 pm

    Thank you for this tutorial.
    I consider myself to be a beginner and I think I will always be a beginner. I am also a newbie to DPS.
    After 35 years, as a keen amature, considering photography to be a hobby, the light was turned on for me by this tutorial. I have eventually seen the light, not merely looking at it. I did not use an egg to do the exercise, I used a sculpture of a Rhino.
    BOOM the light came on. I feel like a blonde (sorry Blondes) experiencing a bright moment.
    We all know, photography is the art of painting with light, but do we really SEE the light? I may be overly excited, with good reason I believe. I no longer look at objects, I see a subject in every object I look at.
    Now I really understand why some Photographers always take WOW pictures and the rest of us may take bright, sharp, correctly composed and exposed pictures, but the WOW's are hundreds of pictures apart.
    Am I crazy, getting so excited about so little, or is it perhaps the only leg photography stands on, LIGHT?

    My hobby is now turning into a passion, and I hope, never to leave my camara at home again.

    Thank you Joel, Darren and all passionate Photographers for sharing, what you know, with others like myself.
    SEE the LIGHT!!!!!!!!!

  • Rosemary Allen

    April 15, 2012 10:21 am

    Absolutely great demonstration of the principles of understanding light, I will certainly be taking this exercise to my video students

  • Tom Leparskas

    April 14, 2012 04:31 am

    broken video link - N/A - April 13, 2012

  • Zoya Tariq

    April 14, 2012 02:34 am

    Very useful tutorial
    Here's my experiment:
    http://flic.kr/p/bM6ftD

  • Zoya Tariq

    April 14, 2012 02:33 am

    Very useful tutorial
    Here's my experiment:
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/zoyatrq/7073834259/' title='Day 85.365' url='http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7256/7073834259_19709a46c3.jpg']

  • Elizabeth

    April 13, 2012 02:53 pm

    Here are my "eggs". I love the Spaceship Earth!

    http://funmommie.blogspot.com/2012/04/easter-photos.html

  • Carissa

    April 13, 2012 07:47 am

    Our instructor had us light a ball, cube, and cylinder. Lesson is the same: See the light!
    http://neophytephotographer.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/day-32-assignment/

  • Carissa

    April 13, 2012 07:46 am

    Our instructor made us light a ball, cube and cylinder. Same lesson!
    [eimg url='http://neophytephotographer.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/snedekerc_art235_proj-1_14_print.jpg' title='snedekerc_art235_proj-1_14_print.jpg']

  • Allan Cox

    April 13, 2012 07:38 am

    great idea, I'll use this exercise on my students!

  • Jai Catalano

    April 13, 2012 03:39 am

    This is an eggcelent video and his eggsample is great. I will try this eggercise soon. Eggsactly when I don't know.

  • Suzan Wood-Young

    April 13, 2012 01:31 am

    I find it interesting that one of the first things we drew in a beginning drawing class I took was an egg.

  • Jay

    April 10, 2012 03:16 pm

    Break the bottom of the egg slightly to make it stand up, or put some salt under it to make it stand up. Seems like a cool exercise! I will try it.

  • Terry

    April 10, 2012 02:03 am

    That was the first question I had too, Dan.

  • Zman

    April 9, 2012 03:09 pm

    Great message and exercise. Please fix the audio.

  • Average Joe

    April 9, 2012 12:07 pm

    Hmm. Makes SOME sense, but I think I'll have to try it in person...

  • Dan

    April 9, 2012 03:42 am

    My only question is, how do you get the egg to stand up?

  • Alexx

    April 9, 2012 03:14 am

    I love playing with light for added dynamics in photographs.

    http://disney-photography-blog.blogspot.com/

  • Brenda

    April 9, 2012 12:09 am

    Shooting eggs was an assignment in my beginner digital photography class as well - here was my submission:

    http://flic.kr/p/6CrFor

  • steve slater

    April 8, 2012 07:34 pm

    As well as objects and people light is equally important for outdoors photography.
    Every place, every time and every day the light is different and presents new challenges and opportunities.
    I notice this in particular as I travel a lot and everywhere I go the light is different. You may think sunlight is sunlight but it is not. The sunlight in, for instance, in the Mediterranean is very different to the UK and different again to Africa.
    The important lesson from this video is that of awareness of this.
    The use of low light here but capturing a sunburst was challenge.

    http://wildlifeencounters.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/African-Wild-Flowers-and-Trees/G0000LbJPJO_3rCA/I0000xAYsQ1jUJ_s

  • nation

    April 8, 2012 07:31 pm

    here's another. I think the lighting makes this photo.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationsonn/7048232617/in/photostream

  • nation

    April 8, 2012 06:12 pm

    Not an egg. But close enough. ;D

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationsonn/7052904895/in/photostream

  • Mridula

    April 8, 2012 04:22 pm

    Not a patch on this video but here is a picture of mine.

    http://blogs.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/2012/04/skywatch-friday-mundane-clothes-clip.html

  • raghavendra

    April 8, 2012 12:46 pm

    I have tried this long back.
    The shape of egg in light is mesmerizing and the shadows give effects

    you can see the magic of light in this colors of nature picture
    http://raghavendra-mobilephotography.blogspot.com/2012/01/colors-of-nature.html

  • Scottc

    April 8, 2012 10:25 am

    Seems like common sense, but this exercise does make it's point.

    A similar, not so good, example...sometimes you can't change or wait out the light you have...

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/6921929203/

  • Doug

    April 8, 2012 10:10 am

    I call 'Shopped egg'! Looks like too much post production HDR to me! ;-)

    Great video and plays well with the Lambo vid.

  • Jeff E Jensen

    April 8, 2012 07:27 am

    This is a great exercise. I actually saw this in an old photography book a couple of years ago and gave it a try. Here's a couple of the images:

    http://blog.jeffejensenphotography.com/2010/03/eggs.html

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