Category: Light

© mick Stetson. All rights reserved.

First Light

Light is the most important aspect of photography. Yet, the vocabulary we use to describe light is quite limited, unlike the two large sensory industries of wine and perfume, which is highly evolved and sophisticated. In addition, some light is considered more attractive or desirable to most photographers, for instance light from the “golden hour” — the approximate time of day when the sun is low and bright, just after sunrise or just before sunset. As a result, our prejudices about good or boring light follow a path that the majority follow. Is that what we want as photographers, to follow the herd?

As photographers, we are bound to light — sometimes waiting for the right nuance of light to cross the path of our subject, or other times frantically chasing after it. When we wait for light, it is because we know what to expect, we are able to anticipate the peak moment when the light and the subject converge to form the best possible photographic experience. We can make a plan of how to approach the situation and when to capture the best possible image. However, when we are chasing light we are looking for those special unpredictable moments that instantaneously coalesce. Knowing how your equipment works is imperative to capturing this fleeting, unusual moment. This is the light that can change the ordinary into the extraordinary, the mundane into the magical. Photographing these fugitive moments of light requires a very active and reactive response, not only from your equipment, but also from your mind-set. Here you need to rely as much on instinct as on experience.

In this series, I have included imagery that captures light at the beginning of the day. I have tried to demonstrate the vocabulary of light rather than write about it. It is my hope that these images will inspire you — wherever you are in the world — to sometimes rise up early in the dawn and explore the infinite variety of light as it first washes down on the earth in subtle nuances of tone and color.

© mick Stetson. All rights reserved.

© mick Stetson. All rights reserved.

© mick Stetson. All rights reserved.

© mick Stetson. All rights reserved.

© mick Stetson. All rights reserved.

© mick Stetson. All rights reserved.

© mick Stetson. All rights reserved.

© mick Stetson. All rights reserved.

© mick Stetson. All rights reserved.

© mick Stetson. All rights reserved.

© mick Stetson. All rights reserved.

© mick Stetson. All rights reserved.

© mick Stetson. All rights reserved.

© mick Stetson. All rights reserved.

Painting Light

Since the beginning of my career, I have occasionally made photographs that appear less like a photograph and more like a painting. Although my work would mainly be categorized as “documentary,” there were other images that I captured while in the field that clearly did not fit into the “documentary” paradigm.

The other photographs all seemed to have something in common — an unusual quality of light. Eventually, in 2012 I asked: How could this machine, the camera, produce something from reality that transcended the moment depicted and resemble an artist’s painted rendition of it instead?

The Painting Light series is a demonstration of the thoughts that have evolved. As I began to seek out this special kind of light and play with it through numerous experiments, I learned that the quality of light I captured in the camera which rendered the best painterly effects depended on the convergence of a few different aspects: the color of the ambient light; its direction in relation to the subject; its intensity; and the camera/light source axis. As a result, I have discovered several ambient light situations where the likelihood of producing a painting-like photograph is quite high.

© mick Stetson. All rights reserved.

© mick Stetson. All rights reserved.

© mick Stetson. All rights reserved.

© mick Stetson. All rights reserved.

© mick Stetson. All rights reserved.

© mick Stetson. All rights reserved.

© mick Stetson. All rights reserved.

© mick Stetson. All rights reserved.

© mick Stetson. All rights reserved.

© mick Stetson. All rights reserved.

© mick Stetson. All rights reserved.

© mick Stetson. All rights reserved.