Chasing The Light -  A Never Ending Quest

August 28, 2017  •  2 Comments

Big Springs - Budding Thistle

August 28, 2017

Chasing The Light -  A Never-Ending Quest

It is always about the light. Why? The answer is obvious. The important reasons are:  How, Where, When, and What. 

How is the light striking whatever the object of focus is? Is the light bright, stark, sharp, clear, and powerful? Has the sun not risen yet? Is the light soft? 

Is it only edging its first inclination of bending over the curved surface of the earth, revealing itself? 

Is the sky changing from a deep, darkest blue almost black to a light and barely changing white? As the earth begins to be seen, look around. Take in the soft, rich colors of whatever place you are. Just look.

Objects begin to shape into recognizable forms; plants, flowers, trees, buildings, horses, whatever. As yet there are no shadows. This time will last between 15 and 20 minutes depending on time of year. Now. Shoot now. 

This from a morning person. The light will not get any better from this shooter’s perspective. There are details in the highlights, shadows, and middle tones. The colors will never be richer, deeper, or more saturated. 

That is one time to find light at its best. The other is after the sun has set. The same set of circumstances prevail. One caveat; one must shoot quickly, as the light fades exposure increases, lessening the opportunity for decent exposures.

Of course anytime during the day are terrific opportunities to shoot and find what you like.  Those moments before and after sunrise and sunset, however, give the best light. Even as the sun rises and before it reaches its zenith, light still has qualities useful for excellent exposures. 

Where to shoot? In open shade. What is open shade? Open shade is any large area that is not receiving direct sunlight, a large building’s shadow, the side of a garage in shadow, a thick-leaved tree, a well-sheltered porch. Any place that is in an evenly lit area of shadow out of direct sunlight.

Shadows are soft, uniform, revealing all parts of an object with some shadow but heavy with detail. Color is bright but not overwhelming. Shadows are soft but defining, giving the object an even exposure and providing dimension. A best light situation.

When to shoot? Whenever the opportunity presents itself. Sometimes rules must be ignored. Opportunity does not wait for ideal conditions. One can anticipate and attempt to find places for optimum conditions and best exposure, however. Preparation is experience in action. 

What to shoot? Whatever you find appealing. Whatever satisfies your expression of creativity.

This shooter looks for quality of light. It does not matter what is being shot. What matters is how light exposes, illuminates, and defines, even the most simple object.

Look at today’s image. It is shot late in the day. The sun is setting and almost everything is in shadow. The light is almost dividing the thistle in half between light and shadow, but not quite.

The division of light gives the object a more three-dimensional quality. There is detail in the highlights, and detail in the shadows. Now, look at the background.

The background has two defining qualities: It is darker than the object, and it is out of focus. This accentuates the main object. By being lighter than the background the budding thistle stands out. By being out of focus, the background thrusts the thistle into the center and forces the eye to examine every part of it. It’s as if one could reach out and touch it.

How, Where, When, What. Each in its time. Put together over time these things become a part of the whole process as one learns from each opportunity and applies them. 

I am grateful for your visit. Thank you.


Photographic WaterColors
You’re welcome.
J J Bassett
Wonderful! Light is the main reason why I always carry a camera with me. By the time one runs to get one, the light you saw is gone.
Thanks Andy for your tutelage!
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