Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Learn to Recognize Great Light

Totonicopan Tailor

Photography is about light. In fact, the word "photograph" comes from two Greek words: photos, which means "light," and grapho, which means "to write." So to photograph really means to write with light.

Learning to see light and use it well is the most basic, but also the most important skill in photography. For me, it has also been the most difficult to acquire and I'm still working at it. A true master of photography can find ways to use almost any kind of light, even the harsh glare and black shadows of mid-day. Most of us, though, will find serendipity favors the slanting, directional rays of morning and evening, the softness of open shade, and the warm glow of windowlight, as in this picture of a Guatemalan tailor making uniforms for students at an evangelical mission school in the mountain town of Totonicopan. A large window to his right was the sole and beautifully sufficient source of illumination.  (Olympus OM, 85mm Zuiko, Fujichrome 100)

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