First I studied fine art, and then I fell in love with photography. Ambient light has always been my preferred element of the medium. In my first photography class, my professor, Gerhard Bakker, influenced my defining style when he said, “You are going to become a photographer. A painter of light.” He explained the origin of the word “photography” from the Greek words “photo” meaning “light” and “grapho” meaning “write.” I knew I would be a painter of light using a camera instead of a brush, and I began my explorations of light.
As a painter learns the properties of paint to give life to a canvas, the photographer learns the characteristics of light to create an artistic photograph. The amount of light influences quantity and quality. The sun is the primary light source and we instinctively create with it.
We may suppose that a ray of light is a row of bundles of energy we call quanta. When light reflects on an object, our senses and instincts capture the moment. I have discovered that not all light is the same.When photographing in ambient light, we often have limited control over the quality of light, though it can be altered with filters and reflectors. Light quality can be a condition of cloud coverage. On an overcast day, sunlight is filtered through clouds and diffusion can result in a soft quality.
Another important contributor to light quality is time of day. In the early morning and late afternoon, sunlight acquires a warm soft quality, while sunlight can be harsh at noon. Some photographers are hesitant in taking photographs in high sun because of the problem of high contrast. However, it is one of my favorite times to shoot when I can create photographs with shadows and drama in their composition.