It’s all about the light …

Why do you take pictures? What makes you pick up your camera? Is it just the beauty of the scene? Or the smile on someone’s face?

I’m sure it is different for each of us, but this morning, I remembered what it is for me. Because even before I turned on the coffee machine, I grabbed my camera. The light was coming through the window and the Dutch door and I saw something. I remembered abruptly that this is what always grabs me. Of course I take pictures of my granddaughter, my dogs, friends and sometimes total strangers because they are important to me or just because, though I can’t always say what it is. Spectacular scenery is inevitable. Like any photographer, I’m going to try to capture it. I’m as much a sucker for a pretty picture as anyone.

But that’s not it. In the final analysis, for me it’s about light.

My kitchen in the morning. Sans dogs.

It has always been about light. My very first roll of film, in black and white, about half the pictures were of light coming through trees.  I’ve spent a lifetime trying to show just how light filters through leaves or the way it shines through a window. Reflected light on water or wet sand. The sun as it rises or sets. I love the subtleties, the minute by minute changes of color of the sky.

That’s why I almost never raise saturation in a photograph and probably why I don’t much like HDR photography. I’m looking for shadings and delicate colors. I don’t want everything more vivid … so when I post process, I am far more likely to turn the color and contrast down than  I am to push it up.

The changing colors of the light through the seasons: golden in autumn, nearly white in winter and how these annual color shifts change the way the world looks … so ephemeral, so fleeting and delicate. I love shadow, the brother of light and how these change with the time of day and the seasons. I can watch for hours the changing colors of the sky while the sun moves across until it finally sinks below the horizon to full dark.

Have you ever watched a sunset from late afternoon until full dark? Light lingers long,  even after the sun invisible. The further north latitude you are, the longer light remains. Everyone shoots brilliant sunsets or sunrises. I favor sunrises, but I realize that may have something to do with living on the east coast. Facing east makes sunrise more accessible.  A brilliant arrival or departure of Apollo’s Chariot is spectacular. Yet even the most ordinary dawn or dusk contains an equal amount of beauty. It’s harder to capture it. Brilliant color is easy compared to slight incremental pastels. You don’t get nearly as many “oohs” and “aahs” from a photo composed of soft pastel tones.

I’m fascinated by the way shadows shift with time of day; the colors of the world as the sun sinks; the way various kinds of artificial light — street lamps, candles, neon signs — each have their own spectrum and effects.

For me, it’s all about light.

Categories: Photography

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

6 replies

  1. I’ve read photography books on just the subject of “It’s all about the light”. I took an online class at Kelby training on photographing interiors that changed my photographic life. I now seek out interiors of restaurants, museums, old logging camps and mountaintop visitor centers. I pack my tripod and take bracketed multiple exposures blended into HDR composites. I don’t go for the grunge style of HDR but instead strive for a warm, perfectly exposed interior shot. Good work on capturing the light in your kitchen.


    • I never took any formal courses, but an old flame of mine was a photographer and did the equivalent of a brain dump of everything he learned in photography school. I learned much of the best stuff from Alfred Eisenstadt, so to speak. In 1965, I stayed at the inn where Eisenstadt stayed each summer. The inn was full of his Vineyard pictures. I followed his tracks and duplicated every picture I could; by doing so, I learned perspective, how to turn a scene into a composition, and so much more. Many years later, I got to know him. By then, he was in his late 80s and we knew him until he died in his late 90s. One rarely gets to meet one’s “idol.” I got lucky 🙂


  2. Thank you for the reference on your site of catnipoflife! I love your photography and left comments on Sunrise in March. I am looking forward to visiting more of your posts. The best way to do that, of course, is to sign up as a follower:>) Perhaps you would be interested in following catnipoflife or her sister site, Awakenings (

    Have a blessed day filled with light!


    • Thank you. You have a lovely website yourself and I signed on … I’m rather eclectic in my taste, and I read a lot. I’m glad to find you! I’ve been taking pictures since before my son was born and he’s 43, so I guess that’s a while. Interesting that I’m still chasing sunlight after all these years!


  3. I like it!! Blinded by the light?? Only problem is you can see all the dirt and stains usually hidden by the shadows. I can hear the dogs barking as you take the shots instead of giving them treats.


    • They weren’t barking and I shot before they starting swirling around me, but I was faster than they were this morning! More impressive was that I grabbed the camera before I started the coffee brewing. That’s serious photography.


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