I recently did a 3-day drive from Vermont to Colorado to be in the Rocky Mountain snow for the holidays. I know, I know, there are airplanes that will do the same trip in just a few hours but I like driving across our country and reacquainting myself with the ever-changing landscape.
Three days in a car gives one a lot of time to think and while most of my thoughts were just a wee notch above idle some actually were worthwhile. The best of these was the realization that photography is all about the capturing of light and the better the light the better the photography.
I know, I know, you have all heard this a gazillion times before- blah, blah, blah, light, blah, blah, blah, photography. And yet we all forget about it as soon as we grab our cameras. Don’t believe me? How many times in the past year did you photograph something ordinary in beautiful light versus how many times did you photography something beautiful in ordinary light? I am pretty sure that we all spend much more time photographing beautiful things in ordinary light.
And what is the result? An ordinary picture. I don’t care how beautiful your subject is if you photograph it in ordinary light the photo will always be ordinary. For 30 years I have saying “dull light equals dull picture” just as ordinary light equal ordinary picture.
But beautiful light? Photograph anything ordinary and you will get a beautiful photo. It may not be the best composition, that is up to you, but it will be a beautiful photo.
This really hit home to me when I was driving just after sunrise and just before sunset. Didn’t matter where I was- city, suburbs, farming fields, rest stops- with the beautiful light the world before me was beautiful.
So here is my challenge to you for this coming year- instead of seeking out beautiful subjects or locations try seeking out beautiful light. Chase light, don’t go around chasing subjects. Chase clearing storms, chase twilight, chase light misty days, chase the warm light early and late in the day, chase light snowy days. It doesn’t really matter where you are or what you are photographing during these times it just matters that you are out there trying. It’s all about the light.