Photography and illumination – or just light if you are like most mortals

On the bus this morning I was thinking about the importance of light in my photography. Much of the work I have done lately is focused in one geographic location – an older school building on the south side of Chicago. I’m pretty lucky really. It has windows in most rooms so it gets some natural light during the day. But for the most part, I’m responding to the activity that is going on around me and if the light is interesting and the action happens to be there then I’m lucky.

At other times I’m just interested in the light. For example, take a look at the shot below. I was walking in Phoenix and saw the light hitting the painted boards that covered a construction site. The color was great. The light was great and now, as the photographer Neil Selkirk once said in a location lighting lighting workshop, “You just need a murder…”. In other words, you need something to move into the scene and interact with the light. So I waited (back in those days, hanging out with a camera was not a suspicious activity). I saw this man out of the corner of my eye, walking into the frame. Really I saw the hat; unusual for Phoenix.Probably one or two frames and then he was gone.

Now, if you want to read about illumination, check out Rodney Smith’s more eloquent description of the importance of light in his photography.