Let There Be Light

I hope each of you had a nice Thanksgiving.

Without light, there can be no life. The described purpose of this blog is to display and talk about photography not life, although I do both. Obviously, photography is dependant on light.

Light matters, but one sort of light can differ from another. God provides light, but man has learned to copy. We read in the evening via manmade light. Man copying God. Poorly I may say, but it serves a purpose.

Photography was invented needing to exist by light. Without light, there can be no photography. All light is not created equally.

The quantity, the quality, the direction, the color, and the intensity of light, all matters in photography.

Firstly, let us examine the rules of light in photography. My first suggestion is that you examine those rules, and there are many photographers who write about them regularly, and then pretty much toss them out. I mean, without any light what so ever, there is no photography, but that is the only rule that needs to be lived by.

Backlight is bad. Nonsense!

Mid day top light is horrific. It can be problematic, but not horrific and sometimes it’s good.

Lowlight is bad, powerful light good. Sometimes yes, often no.

Manmade light in nature is bad, natural light good. Sometimes manmade light is the only light. If so, it is better to embrace it than go home without trying.

Side or backlight is not flattering to wildlife. Both can be used and often they make a more powerful statement. Light from any and every direction, is perfectly natural.

Light can obviously be beautiful around sunrise and sunset. Take what you get, and use it to your advantage.

Below the first image you see was made in New Mexico as sunset neared. It is front light but a tiny bit to one side. The land and water there are always attractive, but the golden rays of the late day sun, create not only color, but contrasts between light and dark. Contrast, caused by light, can cause problems or it can be a blessing. Often which that it will be is up to the photographer. Both technically and artistically.

Backlight can make a powerful statement. This stormy Lake Michigan sunrise image, obviously has within it, both an ominous tone, and a “touch of beauty”. The two can live together and need not be mutually exclusive.

This next one is a foggy prairie sunrise, and is side to back lit. As fine a morning as I ever have spent.

Exposure can be a bit tricky here, but whether you are under or over, will be your definitive statement about the scene. I came home that day with exactly what I wanted.

The next two sunrise images are back to side lit, and front to side, respectively.

Mixes of light and shadow, can be a bit disturbing, but more often they are dramatic and beautiful.

This was made on a misty morning in a forest. The light is not direct sun, but it is muted by clouds. The contrast levels that would have existed without the softened light, would have been difficult, but I would have made photos just the same. A very different sort of drama than the sunrise/sunset pictures above.

Close-ups of ice patterns are often photographed under overcast conditions, by the choice of the photographer. This one seems to be mostly but not entirely direct sun. I felt that the mixture of light and sun here, is what made the image.

The light is offset enough, as to produce texture via sidelight. The natural design, the patterns, and the texture was what I wanted to show.

I was provided with side to top light lighting way back when I photographed this massive waterfall in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It was made on film, I believe in medium format 6×7, with Velvia film.

While many will be bothered by the “dancing highlights” on the water, I was enamored by it. Let there be light, and let it be unique.

Inner forest waterfalls that are at least a bit more diminutive than the one above, can be highlighted and exploited if you will, by what I call spotlighting. The sun shone through the forest only a little, but the white capped water, stood out from the black rock in a powerful way. That rock also was bathed in just enough light, to provide texture (once again) and render this scene naturally beautiful and powerful at the same way.

Soft spotlight is beautiful as well. The fern and flower below was illuminated by such light and created a delicate, yet powerful mood.

Spider webs with dew, work well with differing forms of light. This web was top lit. It was direct but fairly soft. I would have tried no matter what, but truly harsh light might have washed out the details of the droplets with the web.

The point is, I would have still tried it.

Soft light has many up sides to it. The only thing I love more than lots of sun from varying angles, is very little sun.

Soft, muted sun over these western hills and valleys, allowed for gorgeous saturation which in turn showed beautifully all of the great colors that lived there.

Okay, sun or no sun? There is some bright sun here but the background was so dark and distant, that a tiny addition of contrast in the editing process rendered the faint details on an inner forest building that was in the background, invisible.

The absence of any direct sun, does not mean there is no light. Unless of course, the sun is on the other side of the earth.

The complete lack of direct sun in the next three images, does not mean that there is no light, or that good photos can’t be made.

The soft feeling that we get from the lack of direct light in the ice image below, I think adds to the gentle, peaceful mood of this small waterfall in winter.

There is power and there is peace. Which it is, can be determined by the light.

Gentle but powerful colors, can be captured and shared in soft light. It is about light as much as the subject. Saturation often ensues, when there is no direct light to wash out or conflict with the colors.

Light has as much influence on wildlife as it does rocks, plants and such. Some light can be bothersome but tames, and some is flattering to our wild friends. All can be used.

This Canada Goose is preening while at a snow covered parking lot. The sunlight is slightly top and to our right. That light, adds a dimension to this subject that would be shameful to have missed. From feather detail to beautiful contrasts.

What about that “rude” sidelight?

Drama. If we illuminate the subject with light, in all the proper places, harsh light won’t destroy your photo.

This male Kingbird is turned just enough to cast light and therefore detail on its face, and especially it eyes. Oh those eyes. It gives him life.

This image may not be suitable for a field guide or such, but it is an information yielding, and fairly dramatic portrait is this species.

This picture of a Red-tailed Hawk, is similar to the Kingbird, but shares with us a bit more detail.

Sometimes we create our own light. That can be true in nature, and is certainly the case when in the studio.

I admit, it is a powerful feeling to create an image that is conceived, created, and brought forth with light, from our own imagination and knowledge.

I do not believe I could at this time, even remember what I was thinking when I created this studio shot of a Carnation, mirror, water and light. Or what it means, except that it was not about that type of flower. Light, reflections, composition and contrast surely seems what was on my mind.

This photo of a glass statue of a “Madonna type” woman, is an example of using imagination, and a love for unique light, both natural and that which I saw fit to create indoors with studio lights. I would tell you what it means, but I know not. From time to time, we just need to get an image out of our system. When we do, it can only exist by using and occasionally creating light.

Genesis 1:3
“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.”

Whether you interpret the above verse as literal light on the land, or as a spiritual awakening, casting light brings amazing results.

God Bless,

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