This is a shot from Hawaii’s big island. Pay attention to the light. Maybe you think light isn’t very important in this shot. There are no brilliant sunbeams or brightly colored skies. But I’ll argue that light is critically important to this photograph. Maybe two more photos from the same location will help convince you.
As I was taking the first shot in this post, I realized that I was looking at a perfect setting for a teachable moment. I turned around and took a shot of the forest down the road – which was in bright, full sunlight. Compare it to the shady shot at the top of the post. The greens in this shot are intense… but the shadows are way too dark. The image lacks the depth that is so much a part of the first shot, and the finished photograph is unappealing.
This one is even worse. To get this shot, I turned so that I could capture an image half in sun and half in shade. The colors are washed out – this is because colors look best when they are properly exposed. In this case, the shadows are too dark, and the highlights are too bright.
Soft, even lighting works very well for photographs of wooded areas like this. In the first photo, light is evenly scattered throughout the image. The soft light brings out the rich green and gold tones in the forest, and produces a sense of depth. When you are shooting in the woods, look for shady areas, and avoid a sun and shade mix.