Click on image to enlarge
Long before I became interested in photography, I had a love of fine art painting. Unlike most kids growing up in the farmlands of central Illinois, I would rather look at picture books filled with paintings than to go outside and play baseball. I can assure you that was considered more than a little strange in my childhood world, but it was just the way it happened for me. Early on....I had a love affair with art, and especially with painters.
It always amazed me how someone could take a piece of canvas and some paint, close their eyes to a vision of the mind, and then create that vision in the form of a painting. Impressive for sure, but the truly gifted artists could paint light.....yes real light, and they could dictate the quality of light in a way that made their work believable. Throughout history artists have faced the challenge of light...it's direction, it's color, it's intensity, and so much more.
As I became a photographer, I have carried so many of those early images in my mind, and I have struggled to conquer light in the same way as painters have done over the centuries. So much of what we do as photographers is dependent up the light in front of us. We can accept it for what it is, or we can use filters to manipulate it as we would like it to be. We can carefully select compositions that use the light in varying ways, or we can sit tight and just wait for the light to change..... perhaps brighter, perhaps softer, perhaps newly filtered by passing clouds. We can become painterly with our images by taking note of the light, and by giving it the respect it deserves.
Searching out light that brings mood into our photographs is incredibly important. It is often what moves a photo from just a snapshot to a real work of art. While today's high tech camera equipment can give us many advantages, it is no replacement for a trained eye.......an eye that recognizes special light and then uses it to produce images worthy of our efforts.