Light and Shadow – Photographing in India | Nat Geo

Nat Geo Assignment: Light and Shadow - Kristian Bertel
Girl in Mandawa, India has been submitted to ‘Light and Shadow’ on National Geographic.



See the National Geographic photo assignments that Kristian Bertel has participated in – Read the story about his photographs here…

Kristian Bertel has contributed to the Nat Geo Your Shot community with an assignment called ‘Light and Shadow‘. Curated by Kristen McNicholas, an associate photo editor at Nat Geo Your Shot, we should slow down and truly study the light around us. We should ask ourselves, where the light is coming from and how we can arrange ourselves to best utilize the light to show the highlights and shadows and make a dynamic photograph by finding photographs in the light and shadows around us.

As Kristen is saying it: ”- I recently came across a photograph and while this photograph was quiet and not much is happening, the light and shadows make the moment compelling. They force you to stop and examine the frame detail by detail. The colored building perfectly frames the man on the sidewalk while a figure in the street emerges from the shadows”, she says.

Light and shadow in photography
When you as a photographer is working with the sensitive handling of the existing light, the detection of unusual light situations, the optimal exposure and contrast management, there are many things to be aware of. As a photographer you of course might know how light makes subjects unique and often becomes a subject itself.

On the one hand, the lighting of a subject cannot be changed afterwards, on the other hand the most beautiful light does not work, if the tonal values in the picture are not right, if there are shadows or lights have been eroded. Photographing with light begins with developing sensitivity to extraordinary lighting situations. There are these magical moments in India when the light enchants the environment and you hold your breath as a photographer. Often, such lighting moods last only a few seconds or minutes, such as when a storm is at the door. When the day turns into the blue hour and the bluish cold ambient light is in a nice complementary color contrast to artificial light sources. Such moments cannot be forced, you get them for free.

Influence the sun with the subject
But that does not mean that the photographer would simply be at the mercy of the existing light. You can influence how the sun hits the subject, for instance by choosing the location in order to work out its form or surface. Or you can lighten when the light is too much shadow. Shadows in photography are not simply a dark mass that borders the light the photographer found out while he was in India. But shadows are rather an entity as alive as the light. Because it is the shadows that shape the light, draw attention to the light and integrate with the light to produce striking photographic opportunities.


”From its humble beginnings, photography has been simply the study of light—the way by which light waves strike a surface and are redirected back through glass to make an image. It’s the examination of how light and shadows paint a composition, forming a scene to share that transcends a place and time, telling a story and making the viewer feel something”


About the submitted photograph
The photographer has been interested in portrait photography for a long time. Especially also in remote villages and small towns in India where this young girl was photographed in Mandawa, India. This dry, remote and arid town was once located on one of the ancient caravan routes in the heart of the Shekhawati region in Rajasthan.

”- Today the town of Mandawa in India provides the visitors with a sense of discovery at every turn. If we are to reach our full potential as photographers, we must think as much in terms of mastering the shadows as we do of mastering the light in such a beautiful and remote place”, the photographer Kristian Bertel says.


    You might also like:

Assignments and Stories — National Geographic Your Shot »
Your Shot Photo Community — National Geographic »
Kristian Bertel’s entire gallery on Your Shot »
Showcase of Kristian Bertel’s Your Shot »
Anticipate the Moment on Nat Geo »
Kristian Bertel’s website »


    Tags:   #india   #travel   #portraits