Everything is About Light

Back around the end of 2007, I started to truly understand how much other photographers used light to create an image. Andrew Cosgriff was a local melbourne photography contact whose work I just didn’t quite “get” at first. “Cos” is pretty good at spotting light falling on subjects in an interesting way. I had a fairly unsophisticated appreciation of photography back then, and am still developing!

Reading a lot about photography really helped, along with talking to different photographers at Melbourne Silver Mine meets. I had to understand light better if my images were going to take another step forward.

All I did for a few months was go out in the golden hour in the evening and look for light falling on anything, and photographing it. It was summer, and my Hasselblad 500CM had not completely shit itself yet… Aaah, they were good days…

Consciously looking for light to photograph will heighten your awareness and ability to spot great light. The more photos you take of light, the more you will understand it, and be able to use it.

Get out there on a sunny day, towards the end of the day or early in the morning, and photograph light. Think about where the sun is positioned, and for different light experiences.

Where it is being “funnelled” or restricted by objects to just shining through in spots?

Does it hit only certain points of your subject to add highlights?

Is the sun going to poke through the clouds to provide isolated spots?

What surfaces does it reflect off in a way that is aesthetically pleasing?

Investing in learning how to see light effectively resulted directly in this image, which is one of my all time favourites. It is shot on Flinders Lane of people walking around the Centre Place / Degraves St transition point. The light fall was being restricted by the tall buildings either side of the lane, hitting the subjects in as little highlights here and there.


The Ruckenfigur subjects are contrasted with the couple on the far right who are facing the camera. Their facial expressions are quite dramatic and add significant interest.

The light in the image is what makes it though. I imaging if it was just a nice, evenly lit image, it would not have anywhere near the impact.

For those interested, it was shot on a Nikon FM3A – possibly the most stylish camera ever made – using a Nikkor 85mm f1.4D lens, the kind with an aperture ring… I really miss the aperture ring on new lenses.



One Response to “Everything is About Light”

  1. Another great article… easy to understand and very helpful. Thanks.


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