Photography is about Light … Everything Else is Secondary

On Wednesday, May 16th, 2012, Brian Martin presented a lecture at the Langley Camera Club regarding the importance of light within an image.
Opening his presentation with a dish of marbles on each table, Brian asked club members to look at the marbles and decide what they thought would make good pictures.  Then Brian showed this picture… and asked the club members what is the difference was between the marbles on their tables, and the marbles shown in the picture…
The answer was obvious to everyone throughout the room… The Light!
The presentation continued with Brian emphasizing the importance of light within an image.  Through the use of numerous examples from various genres of photography… from flowers, to birds, to portraiture, to trees, to images simply about the light within… the difference was both obvious and poignant, that if light becomes the subject within an image (and the objects within the frame are secondary) that your photographs take on an entirely new dimension and authority!

When light is the subject, and everything else within the frame is secondary, a new authority takes place in your images(image credit: non-commercial use (educational purposes) free download from Google)

Brian next talked to the ‘objectivity of light’ and ‘subjectivity of exposure’… and the ‘mood’ that exposure can create within an image.  He exampled numerous images of ‘high key’ and ‘low key’ lighting and discussed the ‘authority’ that different exposures brought to the image, as well as the light’s influence on the ‘mood’ of the final image.
Examples of ‘high key’ and ‘low key’ lighting, and the ‘mood’ that each approach creates within the image
(image credits: non-commercial use (educational purposes) free downloads from the Google)
Suggesting to look to top publications to better understand how professional photographers look at light, and how they utilize light as the subject within their award-winning images, Brian exampled two images from National Geographic…
Brian summed up his presentation through these main Take–Away Points…
  • Photography is about light
  • Everything else is secondary
  • Light adds interest/drama to an image
  • Light creates a mood/feeling within an image
  • Light adds ‘visual weight’ within an image
  • Mastering light frees you to concentrate on the creative aspects of photography
  • Light is objective, exposure is subjective
  • Light turns the ordinary into the extraordinary
In conclusion Brian suggested that everyone take the marbles on their table home and incorporate light within an image of their making.  And these are the resulting images…
Please feel free to look through these images for inspiration, and then take on the challenge of submitting your own version of ‘Marbles and Light’.  Comments are welcomed on each image; this exercise is all about sharing of ideas and from that foundation learning to see through visual osmosis!
Submit your ‘Marbles and Light’ image to Jim Horn, along with your name and any comment/explanation you want to share with others in order to understand your image and the approach you took… and add why that particular light inspired you to click the shutter.
Remember; the Light is the subject, everything else is secondary!

Member Submissions

Submission 1 by Jim Horn

Marbles lit by the projector screen during the presentation