February 16, 2012
Drawing with Light. (It's not what you're thinking.)


Light is the single most important technical aspect of creating a photograph. After all, the very word "photography" comes from two Greek words - photo and graphy, with photo meaning "light" and graphy meaning to "draw." I think of this concept often as I take pictures: I am drawing with light in every situation I encounter. Many photographers talk of this concept of good light and bad light but I prefer not to think that way. True there are lighting situations that are naturally more beautiful than others, but light is simply the tool which I am drawing with, therefore I see it as my job to create something pleasing no matter what kind of tool or light I am working with. The girls above were competing in a LEGO competition last weekend in a dim fluorescent-lit room, which is one of those locations labeled "bad" for photographers to shoot in. However, I believe that there is good light almost anywhere if you keep your eyes open and look for it. In this case I found two girls wearing green light-up wigs. I exposed for the florescent lit room and let the green light shine true to it's vibrant color. Using a telephoto lens I framed the girls tightly so that the majority of the picture was "drawn" with the beautiful fun green light, instead of the overhead fluorescent light.

Another example is below. This photograph was shot in a nearly dark room where a mother was putting her baby to sleep at night while watching television. I let the television become my light source and set the white balance to the daylight setting so that whatever color happened to flicker across the television screen would be the color that the photograph became. In this frame something blue was on the screen, bathing them in a beautiful blue light that reflected the calm, peaceful mood that I felt from the mother and child. The mother asked me before the shoot if she should turn the overhead light on for me to shoot with and I declined and asked her to light the room in whatever way she would do if I were not present. I believe in working with whatever natural light comes your way, no matter how challenging it may seem. Often the results are surprising and delightful. Both of these scenes were photographed in "bad" light, yet they are a couple of my favorite light drawings.


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