Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Light is God

And God is light. At least, so say many religious folks. And on this subject, for a rare change, I happen to agree with them.

As photographers, light is everything. It is our God. It is the brush we paint with and the altar at which we pray. It conveys so much! It is the one, single, element of our work that makes our images shine. (Pun intended.)

Light embellishes the story within our images like nothing else: Sometimes with subtlety and nuance, other times quite obviously and with great drama.

If you are a serious photographer and you're not praying at the altar of light, you'll be hard pressed to rise above snapshot-taking status. Sure, it's important to know your camera gear--how to use it and wield it like the photo-equivalent of a Samurai warrior--but knowing your gear and knowing how to use it is only part of the battle. The road to photo-Nirvana is the path of light.

I know I'm sounding like a zealot. And I suppose I am something of a zealot when it comes to the subject of light. Yeah, I spend a fair amount of time keeping up with what's new in the world of photography. And I spend even more time learning how to use the tools of our trade, be it gear or processing software or whatever. But in my heart, I know it's all about the light.

When I was a kid, about ten or eleven, my right eye was seriously injured. It resulted in me having to wear patches over both eyes for months. When your blind for a substantial amount of time, you really learn to appreciate your sight. And you realize, after being deprived of it for some time, that light is everything and darkness sucks. It was soon after this injury--while still having to wear a patch over my right eye for about another year--that my Dad bought me my first camera: a Yashica Penta J, 35mm SLR.

Man, talk about an eye-opening experience! (Not just the return of my eye-sight but the sudden appearance of a camera in my life.)

Suddenly and once again, I could see the world around me. And thanks to my father, I could capture what I was seeing! (I really miss you, Dad.)

As I learned to wield my new, world around me, capturing tool, I quickly realized that it was all about the light. Few things, besides photography or (admittedly, though not recommended) temporarily losing your sight, will make you so keenly aware of the light that envelopes our lives.

If I seem to have become overly philosophical about photography in my old(er) age, I suppose it's true. I guess I have.

(Note: This update is a partial reprint from an article I wrote over a year ago. The beautiful, nicely-toned, image at the top, Crepuscular Rays in GGP, was not captured by me. It was shot and is owned by photographer, Mila Zinkova, and is reused here under permissions granted by its author and under the terms of Wikipedia Commons' GNU Free Documentation License.)

1 comment:

Lin said...

As beautifully written as ever, but that photo....wow...