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Light is everything!

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Local Blogs - Curt Dennison Photography
Monday, 26 April 2010

You can journey to deepest Africa or wait in your yard for a rare bird to appear before your expensive telephoto, but if the light is lousy, so is the photo. Well, you expected my opinion didn't you?

Ansel Adams spent enormous amounts of time in Yosemite waiting for the right light. He was my first hero as a photo student for the same reason that I am also captivated by Claude Monet; I love light! Almost without exception, I shoot light, not subjects. Sure, the subject is important, but without 'proper' light it doesn't say much. To be sure, proper light is subjective, as is composition, but you can't argue that Adams photos are spectacular in ways that few are.

Proper light to me is that which is appropriate, interesting or unusual. Appropriate can mean soft and warm if the subject is a child with mom or it can be moody and dark if it is a rainstorm. Interesting light is that which creates a unique view of a subject and unusual light is when  it stops you in your tracks because it is so unordinary.

It takes a different light to illuminate a model,  a product or a landscape. Take the two photos below. The first I would describe as flat and dull. An upper atmosphere cloud was evening out the light across the landscape. The second one, taken 30 seconds earlier, has a sparkle about it because the sun was coming through the clouds in a different way and illuminating the heart of the subject (Geisert's farm). The foreground is a bit shaded, which is fine because the photo is not about trees. The farm buildings are in full sun and they delineate well against the background trees. The sky has a more crisp and sunny look as a result of the way the sun is striking them.

Sometimes it is a matter of waiting for the light, or, as in this case, setting up really quickly before it disappears. It's always a challenge to get the subject that you want lit by the light that makes it great. I shoot a lot of subjects for a lot of purposes, but the one constant is that light is everything!


Articles posted to the Local Blogs section are the opinions of the authors and not necessarily that of or WASHMO Media, LLC.

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