Friday, July 3, 2015

Photography Is About Light

On A Brighter Day - Tehachapi, California
At it's most basic form, photography is reflected light recorded on silver film or a digital sensor. An image is nothing more than a map of brightness within the limitations of whatever is used to capture the light. No matter what the subject may be, in the end all that you are really doing is recording light.

The subject might be a dumpster. The subject might be a sports car. It could be an abandoned building. Perhaps a tropical paradise. It may be an old rusty toy. It could be a shiny new product in a studio. It doesn't matter, because, at the core, it all comes down to light.

There are three takeaways from this: your camera doesn't matter and your subject doesn't matter--the quality of light is what matters.

Any camera is capable of recording light. It doesn't matter if it's an old film camera, a top-end DSLR, a cell phone, or a cheap point-and-shoot. Every camera can capture light. The differences in ability to record light between different camera makes and models are rarely significant. So whatever camera you have, you have the ability to record light. Don't worry so much about gear.
The Sound of Silence - Mojave, California
Your subject doesn't matter, either. Anything in the right light can make a wonderful photograph. That's because great photography is not about having great subjects. A great scene in poor light will make a poor photograph. A crummy subject in great light can make a great photograph.

What matters is light. Specifically, you need quality light to create quality photographs. Quality light is hard to define because it might be different for each scene. What might be great light for one subject might be terrible for another. You have to decide what light is most correct for each individual scene.

Quality light can be found anytime. Morning, noon or night, quality light is out there if you look hard enough for it. The most obvious and plentiful is typically found around the "golden hour." That's a really good time to be out with your camera seeking great light. But don't let that stop you from looking for quality light any and every time that you have a camera with you.

Learn to look at light first and subject second. Actively seek quality light--this is what photography is about at its core.

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