I've been photographing for a few years now, and I like to think my images have improved. But it wasn't until I started focusing more on the quality of the light that I could see a real difference. Prior to that I'd tend to go out with my camera during the middle of the day, the mornings and evenings usually taken up with other things. And the images reflected that. Many were not interesting. The light often harsh, hot, or simply not there. It became clear: The Light is Everything.
Photography is important to me, a creative outlet that's quickly becoming a passion. And if I wanted to get better I'd have to pay more attention to the light. So I made the commitment but it wasn't easy. Light is something special - I think of it as a gift - and it's not always there. Weather patterns shift, clouds come in where none were expected, it rains or is overcast for what seems like weeks, and this winter has been one of the greyest I can remember. The lake didn't freeze, there was little snow, blue sky was a distant memory, and the wonderful soft winter palette of pinks and blues was mostly absent. And when it does make an appearance it doesn't stay for long. It's elusive and challenging. But when you are there at the right time, and you're able to get the shot you've visualized, it is exciting.
A winter shot of a few bleak trees at the edge of Lake Huron. Nothing much to look at most of the time, but when the light hit them late one afternoon they put on a show.
A group of farm buildings in Lambton Shores. Again, not much to look at in the harsh light of day, but late in the afternoon they seem to sparkle. And those old silos right beside that brand new wind turbine tell a story.
Good light often partners with bad weather. Just before or after a storm front passes through the sky can be striking, with good contrast, dark clouds, and slivers of light. It's a good time to be out photographing. But, as always, those peak moments are fleeting.
Last November I hoped to get some pictures of the Supermoon. The sky was clear that night and it looked promising. Along with a photographer friend we set up in a field at a spot where, using the Ephemeris app, we'd calculated the moon to rise just to the left of the large silo.
But our calculations were off by a touch, and that beautiful moon rose just a bit further to the right and not over the silo and farm buildings. An error of a few degrees makes a big difference. Some scrambling and fast running to get the best shot possible under the circumstances. I did get the Supermoon, just not where I expected it.
The next morning in Grand Bend. That amazing moon setting exactly where Ephemeris said it would. And that light on the lighthouse is from the rising sun. Light is the magic sauce that makes the difference.
A shot of the Assiniboine in the Sarnia Harbour, taken just as the sun broke through on a cloudy day. The light hit the ship and the colours popped.
Two similar images taken on the same day, 16 minutes apart. The sun broke through the clouds and lit up the buildings, creating a completely different look and mood.
A picture of Sarnia's Chemical Valley, taken at dusk. Dark, moody, and mysterious.
An oil tanker, the Algoma HANSA, in dock on the St. Clair River. The sun caught the side of the ship just before sunset. I think of these scenes as beautiful industrial landscapes.
Another industrial landscape, this one taken in Hamilton at the end of February when the harbour still had a thin coating of ice on it. Large storage containers, tugboats, and reflections in the water. Industrial for sure, perhaps not appealing to everyone, but for me it definitely works.
I'll close this post with a Tundra Swan coming in for a landing. Taken late in the afternoon it wasn't quite "last light" but the blue sky rendered the water a colour that contrasted nicely with the bright white of the swan's feathers, and the shadows provided detail.
It is harder to get out when the light is right. And that light is changing all the time. It's also brief, the time of day when the light is at its best is incredibly short. But good light makes for better images and that's what I'm after. So I'll continue to be out there, chasing the light and seeing what I can do with it. The light is everything.