Philosophical and Practical Approaches to Using Light Sources
By Rick Trottier – RJT Images-Light Works Studio
Light is the incontestably essential commodity of photography. Light reflects, refracts, diffuses and is absorbed by what is around it, creating opportunities for colors to be more vibrant, shadows to be stronger, textures to be clearer and all lines, curves and angles to be resolved into composition that delights the eye. Light can be soft and gentle or it can be harsh and unrelentingly intense. It can add warm and energetic hues to the photographer’s palette or punishingly wash out all color with its fantastically complex nature. Light can be utilized to bring an image to the level of masterpiece, or it can leave grievous marks that diminish the integrity of an artistic vision. Light rules all of what we do, how we think, the emotions we feel and even how we dream the artistic dream.
Just as the river fisherman must learn all he can about the waters in an effort to master his craft, but at the same time listen to what those same waters tell him and adjust his approach to gain success, the photographer must have a truly balanced Philosophy of Using Light. Mastery is often the goal of any professional and while it is a worthy objective, therein lies the stealthy snare that can lead to a stultifying relationship with Light. Most photographers would agree that in the Great Outdoors, light is a changeable and inconstant variable, almost impossible to control. Such is really not the case. The nature of light is never-varying; it is weather that creates the presence of variables. However, even inside the studio, light is not the servant of our whims and wishes and must be carefully understood if its mysteries are to be truly followed.
Whether you are indoors or outdoors, there are very simple tenets that must be considered if you are to not fall into the arduous trough of trying to master light but rather to follow it and receive the blessings it bestows.
What most photographers never stop to consider is, what the sources of light are that will be part of the image composition. Almost ALL images have more than one source of light; primary, secondary, incidental, accidental and the list goes on. The best places to start with understanding how to follow the light are by asking as many questions as possible. If the answers are not readily available or ones you even are willing to answer, Light will Master You and Not Serve Your Desires. First you should ask yourself, what is my primary source of light?
You can read more of this article in our July/August issue of ModelsMania