By Ellen Bedrosian
Did you ever wonder why light is so crucial to photography? Besides the obvious element of exposure (for which our images are often criticized for being over- or underexposed) light, I believe, expresses each photographer’s personal vision. For me, capturing the light from a sun ball while shooting underwater is absolute bliss. I’m connecting two of Earth’s essential ingredients for sustaining life: Light and water.
What is it about light? What compels us to rise at o’dark thirty when it’s 20-below outside, to photograph a winter sunrise in Yosemite? Judges can spot images shot during midday because they will tell us that the light is flat, and they usually knock a few points off our scores. Besides low scores, flat lighting has no depth, no contrast, no mystery, no soul. Light is essential to portrait photography as well as landscapes. Whether the subject is human or animal, judges will always compliment an effective catch light in the eyes. Photos without them rarely score well.
Some of my favorite photos emphasizing indirect lighting are back lit flowers, like club member Alda Delorenzo’s photo Just an Open Field. The ethereal rings around the heads evoke the light that allows life to exist on our planet. Without the sun, there would be no life.
It’s not surprising then, that light has many spiritual meanings as well. Ancient texts often talk about the light of God or the light of our souls. Sunbeams are sometimes referred to as God’s rays or God’s fingers. Astrophysicists believe that everything on Earth, including the atoms that make up our bodies, are composed of star dust from the explosion of super novas billions of years ago. No wonder then, that photographers seem obsessed with light. A quick Google search will bring up websites such at 30 Magical Examples of Natural Light Photography. There are hundreds of photography books and thousands of websites devoted to light. It’s the essence of every photograph, and of ourselves.