It’s About The Light

As I have asked many times before, please excuse the lack of paragraph breaks in today’s post.  I wrote this issue in a word processing program that this blog cannot fully understand. I will return to the old one with my next post.

Photography is the capture of light. Light is in fact the essence of photography. Without light, there is no photography.
Once you have light, and a subject to capture in that light, that’s when photography becomes multilateral.
The perspective or point of view that an image is made from, is the next driving force in what any image has to say.
Perspective can be formed by where the photographer puts their camera in relationship to the subject. Up, down, forward, back, left, right. Does the image maker select a wide-angle lens to stretch the subject, or a telephoto to compress the layers within a subject? Maybe something in-between?
When I look at photographs one thing that I often also see is the attitude. Pictures often have attitudes and they can be formed by the light, or the point of view, but also by the subject in and of itself.
Most image making we do today is in color. How those colors appear within a scene, or how we juxtapose them compositionally within a picture frame, has much to do with the feeling of that image. How one color meets another within a scene, can also make a picture pop with dimensionality, or allow it to remain flat ( also a valid choice), and two-dimensional.
Contrast is also a valuable tool for the photographer, even when color is absent from the scene. The differences between the light and dark parts of an image is what often separates (as in contrast) hum-drum pictures from dramatic ones.
Photographer/artist Guy Tal often reminds us that photography is about perspective and point of view. He also lets us know that all photography by definition, is about the light. Sometimes he brilliantly teaches both lessons with a single image.
I would imagine this was made in Utah.

The remaining images are mine, made a long time ago.
Wildlife photography is often about attitude as well as trying to get into the mind of the subject. This Red-tailed Hawk had plenty of attitude, the question is, what is on his mind?
I’ve written a thousand times, well maybe a few dozen times, about using warm and cool tones and/or colors to create pop in pictures. As warm and cool separate, the image can become three dimensional in appearance even though it is displayed in a two dimensional photograph.

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The cool blue Utah sky separates itself from the warm Navajo Sandstone, in each of these three images of natural land arches. The fact that they were all made shortly after sunrise also allows the sun’s warmth to add some additional golden light to the already golden arches and provide even more separation.
It pays to get up early, and stay out late.
That sidelight also produces texture, especially in the first photo.
Which is my favorite? Of course the third one. I don’t doubt that would be most people’s least favorite, but I love using shadows even more than I do the warm light of sunrise. Contrasts via shadows, can be a dramatic aspect of image making.

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These three images all began their life on film and were created in the 1990s.
So it’s about the light. It is also about perspective. How about attitude and even anthropomorphizing our wildlife subjects in such a way, that we might imagine what they are thinking? It also pays to remember, that both color and contrast can actually be composed within the boundaries of an image.
The road to compelling imagery is multi-faceted, and in some respects, a matter of opinion. The only way to realize what photography is to you personally, is to create images, stand back a few feet, and view them as if they were created by someone else. In other words, remove your emotions from the scene, discover what it is you see, and then put those emotions back in again.
Artists like Guy Tal help all of us all to see a little clearer.
God Bless,

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