Thursday, December 31, 2015

Light and Shadow

Nikon D750, Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 + TC14II @ 700mm, 1/320, f/8, ISO 320

Three days ago I wrote about looking for light here in Ohio and I'm still looking.  The thick cloud cover has continued but it has not deterred me from getting out.  Lake Erie holds its own allure so I headed over to Sheldon Marsh to see what I might find there.  Though the mallards are a very common sight I love the way the iridescent colors show up on this male.  Too many times we don't get to see these colors as their heads simply look dark green or even black, but the muted light and my angle to the duck worked in unison to bring out the beauty of this bird.  It even makes me wonder what other colors might be hidden and in need of exposure. 
Nikon D750, Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 + TC14II @ 280mm, 1/2000, f/8, ISO 640

Photography is, after all, painting with light which is something I am more and more reminding myself of.  Sometime's it's not so much about the subject or object itself being recorded as it is the light and shadow that illuminates it and shapes it and defines it.  It is light and shadow and how we interact with it that provides definition and character to what we photograph.  I mean, look closely at these photos (be sure to click on them to view larger).  The brief openings in the clouds allowed the sun to act as a spotlight as they kept moving past it.  That which has the light shining on it grabs our attention and that without the light is pretty much ignored as unimportant but is no less a part of the scene and adding weight to what is illuminated.

Nikon D750, Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 + TC14II @ 700mm, 1/640, f/8, ISO 250

The fact is, light and shadow work closely together to illuminate and mute or hide altogether what is seen and viewed in a photograph.  I'm sure these photos of the Inn and amusement park would hold no interest at all if everything was illuminated by a bright sun high in the sky just as much as if there were no sunlight hitting them at all.  In other words, a photograph containing all light and no shadow or all shadow and no light is rarely appealing.

Nikon D750, Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 + TC14II @ 300mm, 1/640, f/8, ISO 180

But the sun as a spotlight illuminating bits and pieces captures our attention and brings drama to the scene that would be otherwise passed off as inconsequential and not worth a second look.  It is exactly what I was experiencing standing on that beach looking around at all the grayness with nothing to raise the camera at when all of a sudden the sun made an appearance in a way that made me utter, "wow" and immediately started snapping away as the spotlight panned the area.

Nikon D750, Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 + TC14II @ 300mm, 1/640, f/8, ISO 180
This is part of why I don't let otherwise gloomy days keep me from getting out.  You never know what might happen or be seen that compels us to capture it.  Sometimes muted light works really well for what we want to show, like the mallard in the first photo.  Most times it's the juxtaposition of light and shadow that grabs us and holds our attention and makes us look closer and ponder the scene.  Light and shadow...I need to look for it and shoot it more often but with winter upon us in Ohio I'll work with what I've got.

No comments:

Post a Comment