Weekly Image: Seeking Light

This seems like an obvious title for any photographer, but when you really sit down an think about it, how many of you (photographers) actually take a moment to really think about where it is your light is coming from? Is it reflecting off of a window? A reflector? Is it being defused by a defuser or clouds? I’m sure many consider the sun or a flash, those are obvious because we can see them without any thought. But what about that small reflection of light bouncing from a puddle in the road? Or the soft glow of a lamp? I’m sure they are overlooked quite often because we are so concerned with our flash or where the sun is we forget to step back and look at things differently. At least this was the case for me when I first started. I then attended a conference where a photographer, Bob Davis, talked about becoming a “seeker of light.” It was seriously this phrasing alone that completely changed how I look at lighting and think about where it’s coming from or how I can manipulate it. One might call it a breakthrough, but it seriously changed everything about my pictures.

This leads me to this picture, which was featured in my Shutterfest blog post. As we were photographing the model, we were in a very low lit room of Union Station. To the untrained eye it may have actually looked rather lit up with all the lamps and up lighting in the room. It’s not like it was so dim you couldn’t see across the room it was actually bright enough to see a person’s face across the room, but in terms of creative photography it was pretty dim. We (and by we I mean about 20 photographers) set up a light to the bottom left of the model. It was a continuous light, no flash. The point of this breakout of photographers was to use the lighting we were given. The up light created some cool effects, but for a female model, it wasn’t the best in terms of appearance. So we moved the lamp next to here a little closer. This helped break out the harsh shadows caused by the lamp to the bottom left and create a softer light. Now, personally, I’m not a huge fan of black and white, but after comparing the two (color and b/w) I really liked the black and white image a lot more.

So with this post, I encourage you to become a “seeker of light.” You obviously know where the sun and/or your flash is, but get creative with it. Look for relections or little trails of light. When you do this, I promise it will change how you view images completely. It’ll change how you take images as well.