‘Contrast is what makes photography interesting,’ states Conrad Hall and what better way for the beginning photographer to create contrast than the use of light and shadow.
Morning light produces tender beautiful light and is sought by photographers. To catch early-morning light calls for an early rise, when the alarm is set, warm clothes worn. Our camera bag is packed the day before. The color is soft, delicate and mysterious. The hard angles in the landscape are smoothed into gentle contours. Shadows are distorted and produce images of interest and beauty, it’s easy to be creative in such glorious light
AT THE ZENITH
We move on to midday when the sun is at its zenith. Light is bright, shadowless and harsh. Scenes become washed out, faces lack color and contours. Landscapes are over-exposed. Midday is a time to avoid.
THE GOLDEN HOUR
Late afternoon and the light changes yet again. A glittering gilded hue, like a halo, surrounds gardens and landscapes. Poets, writers, and photographers refer to this hour as the golden hour. The sunlight sparkles on every leaf, like a diamond. The scene is enriched with soft color. Giving it a romance, a beauty that excites photographers. This is the photographers’ hour.
THE BLUE HOUR
The blue hour it’s called but not because it brings on a bout depression. When the sun is below the horizon and residual, indirect sunlight takes on a blue shade. The sky is often streaked with pinks and purples creating a heaven filled with drama, black moods, mystery, and a sense of foreboding. The blue hour is a creative and challenging time for the photographer.
Be aware of your surroundings, always look for that special moment. That scene when light, shade, and action come together at once and the photographer is in the right place, at the exact time and your favorite camera is in your hand. An intuitive sense needs to be developed, we need to observe with another eye, the third eye. Developing the third eye, so to speak, calls for practice, the daily use of the camera, taking many images. The advice of one photographer is to take fifty images a day.
Light must have a source from which to shine. Outdoors it’s the sun indoors it is lamps, torches, globes to aid lighting. Many types of artificial illumination are used in which to create effects of mood and emotion the ambiance of a room. There is a vast amount of equipment available to enhance images and manipulate them in whatever way we like. There is more to be said about the use of light, I have only outlined the use and need of light. I wonder if the subject of light could ever be fully explored.
As people, we too need light to live. Without daylight, we could not enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Our world needs the sun to grow food. We could not live in a world of darkness. Yet we do – a mental darkness. We try to create our own brightness but it soon dies, it is an artificial radiance gained from things.
Ever looked into someone’s face and felt a darkness? The expression is closed, dark, depressed and sad. We meet another person who exudes joy. Their face is open, alight, they are full of enthusiasm. They are lit up from within. Needless to say, we need illumination within and without if we are to function healthily.
The source of that inner light is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Jesus says of himself, ‘I am the light of the world.’ When I first accepted Jesus as my savior, I was struck by the clarity of color, and how in focus everything was. I thought I must have imagined it, not understanding that Jesus gave me a new spirit and pristine heart. I was a brand-new person. Later, I found others had experienced the same thing. My inner light source changed, for the better, I might add.
One day Jesus was speaking to a crowd of people, ‘I am the light of the world, so if you follow me, you won’t be stumbling through the darkness, for living light will flood your path.’(John 8: 12 LB) Throughout my life Christ has lit up my life with a living light that has not been able to be extinguished. Grief, loss, depression, poverty or hardship even happiness and comfort, have all been my experience, but they have not been able to put out my inner source of life. Once Jesus is enthroned within our being, we are lit with an eternal radiance.
To be a good photographer we need light and know how to use it. To find true health and know how to relate to our fellow humans, we need a pure light. Jesus is our pure inner source. He said of himself, ‘I have come as a Light to shine in this dark world so that all who put their trust in me will no longer wander in darkness.’ (John 12: 44 -47 LB)