Friday, January 24, 2014

Light - the final frontier - your life's mission to explore and conquer strange new phenomena

Light is peculiar stuff. It travels in straight lines, most of the time (but not always). As a photographer, you might not be able to get close enough to an event horizon to view curved light beams but you can do some really neat things with light for all that.

Ages ago, I was walking (without a camera) in about minus 30 centigrade. That's -22 Fahrenheit and I can assure you it's pretty cold. I'd just missed a train and after looking in the heated waiting room, saw it was full of coughing, sneezing, spluttering Russians. Rather than spend 30 minutes waiting there for the next train, I elected to walk on toward the next station some 2 kilometers down the line. As I walked, I noted that the dense ice fog was allowing the moon to shine through before I remembered that as it was midday, the moon should be on the other side of the planet. It was then I realised that the pale disk in the sky was actually the sun. I trudged on, snow crunching but not compressing underfoot. It made that crisp crunchy sound associated with a newly opened cookie wrapper.  I followed the railway line as anything more than 3 meters from the line dissolved into a white nothingness. All I could see was white and the railway line that was rapidly being covered by snow.  The overall effect was very much like the photo below though this is not snow but fog.
As can be seen from the photo, everything has dissolved into a white mist. The image looks like a solarised monochrome photo but in reality it is in full glorious color.  Where sky and water meet has vanished; the two blending into the one. This is not China, notorious for its smogs nor Los Angeles nor even anywhere in Detroit. It is in fact in South Carolina.

The photo below shows what can be achieved with a sun that's fairly high in the sky. The contrast is strong and the shadows pronounced. The colors are vibrant. Most photographers fear the midday sun for making their photos appear bland or too contrasty. Don't fear the sun, embrace it - take some striking photos.
The photo above was taken in Wales in March of 2002 when I was there, visiting family and friends - something that had not been possible before. When I was there, I saw everything with fresh eyes having been absent for some 7 years. There's a lot to photograph in a small space. 

The photograph below was taken on a trip to Orangeburg. I'd gone down there to meet an acquaintance and it was cool with the sun lower on the horizon than I would have liked. It did however offer me the opportunity among other photographs to take this one. The sun is low in the sky, affording great illumination, great color and interesting contrast.
I will have to do more photos like this. I really like the contrast between the colors, the light and the shadow. It looks so delicious you almost want to eat it.

None of the photos above used anything special. They were all shot with a Canon XT and a 17-85 lens. No flash was used. No tripod was used. Nothing out of the ordinary was used. They were all shot hand held at 100 ISO. You don't need anything stunning to capture light. Just get out there and do it!

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