Light is the Most Important Aspect of Photography
by John P. DeGrazio
Today starts the first ever Range of Light Film Festival in Yosemite Valley. It will be a 4 day event screening work from many talented artists, many of whom call Yosemite home. Thinking about the title of this festival inspired me to write this latest post. I was at Tunnel View yesterday to photograph the clearing storm when I met a couple of artists who will be presenting films at the festival. They were driving the ‘Camera Truck’ to different locations for shooting all day, and Will was nice enough to give onlookers a tour of one of the world’s largest cameras. I was amazed to see this and witness their passion for photography.
After the rain stopped falling, I set up my tripod at the overcrowded vista and waited. I was waiting for one thing. Light. I have blogged about photography and even shared my featured iPhonography with our audience over the past few years full well knowing that the photos I share are not quite professional quality for several reasons. I like to think I am moving in that direction and now possess an entire library of images just waiting for me to edit in a complex post processing procedure. I will one day take the time to process the raw images; but for the purpose of timing, I will share them now with some simple edits in the Picasa program.
As I continue to shoot, I realize that I am learning a great deal about composition. Yes, Walter Flint, even with an iPhone camera. While waiting out the storm, I began to critically think about some of my own photography and what it meant to “chase the light” as my friend Evan Russel shared with me many years ago. I noticed a beam of light shine through some low clouds onto my scene and I began rapidly adjusting my manual settings. This post could cover several topics including using manual settings and becoming comfortable with your camera, but I will focus on light. Many people take many beautiful images all around the world, and there are incredible images taken in both low and harsh light situations. One realization I made in my own photography is that although I get good images with nice compositions, most of the photos I take during mid-day hikes lack the special quality of ideal lighting that makes a photo pop. It does not discourage me from making an image, however. I just come to realize that I have a lifetime of photography ahead of me where I will be able to revisit those locations to make even better ones at a future date.
When I took a few more shots that I felt captured this light reasonably well, I made sure to back away from my tripod to take in the entire scene. I noticed the light had moved away from what I had framed and onto another rock. After learning this valuable lesson, I reset my frame to capture the changed lighting conditions. It was a fun exercise choosing what to shoot over the next 30 minutes, and I believe I came away with a few quality images.