Yesterday's Light

Images in Space and Time

It’s the Light, Stupid

Turret Arch from North Window, Arches NP

I’m really not in the mood for controversey at the moment.  I’m on vacation, after all.  Out in the great southwest (where life is truly worth living).  As opposed to Webster, NY.  Where life is only moderately worth living.  Or even less so between November and May.

But some recent stuff on the blogosphere seems to be resurrecting the old argument about the virtues of light in a photograph.  The one that says that light is important – as in you can’t make a photograph without it – but that it’s not worth “chasing”.  You don’t need to look for “good light”.  You just need to look for good subject matter.  If you happen to get nice light at the same time, that’s sort of a bonus.  A hidden jackpot, so to speak.

Horse Pucky.  Not only is that just a bunch of crap, it’s hypocritical.  It’s an easy thing to say if your claim to fame is as a non-pretty picture maker.  If you claim that getting pictures that look “nice” is some kind of “fetishistic” lower form or more infantile version of photography.  The kind of pictures that might make a good postcard or calendar picture.  But nothing that might actually provoke thought.

Then – when you do see something that’s actually bathed in some decent light – you can  claim that you just happened to see it (the “pretty” light) and figured what the hell, I might as well snap it.  Jeez, the damn light just appeared in front of me.  What was I supposed to do?  I couldn’t just ignore it……….

Again, horse pucky.  Borrowing the old Clinton campaign slogan (with a slight moderation), “it’s the light, stupid”.  The best photography requires good light.  It doesn’t really matter if you chase it or stumble upon it – you’re better off if you have it.

OK, time to go.  I’ve got some early morning light to capture (on red rocks).  You can go shoot the inside of your refrigerator or something.  Whatever turns you on…….


10 Responses to “It’s the Light, Stupid”

  1. c4minor

    Hi Paul, thanks for the light! And it’s a very nice picture, too. Wish I was there just now.
    Cheers, Christian

    • Paul Maxim

      Thanks, Christian. Unfortunately, not exactly an “original” composition. More like one of the iconic pictures from Arches, even though it ain’t all that easy to get.

    • Paul Maxim

      Well, I’m never really not in the mood for a slight difference of opinion, Ken.

  2. Cedric

    “Horse pucky”, that’s good, love it. Almost as good as your photo. Keep catching that good light Paul and enjoy your vacation. You’ve gotta know by now there’s always going to be people who aren’t going to get it.

    • Paul Maxim

      Thanks, Cedric. It was a little tongue in cheek, but I think you know that. Although it seems to me that if you have a choice between “good light” and “bad light”, you’d pick the good stuff. Wouldn’t you? I mean, what are you saying if you take the bad kind? That it’s really the good kind? I think I’m getting confused……..


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