This whole ‘light’ thing

I have found accessing material that talks specifically about light and its qualities in photography quite difficult, maybe because it is one of the key components of photography that you can’t do without so successful photographers take it for granted.  After much searching I found two books in my local library with ‘light’ in the title and purchased another two which again, specifically referred to light.

The library books first:

Capturing the light by Peter Watson.  This is a book on landscape photography with one or two architectural bits; some old stairs, a dilapidated barn thrown in.  It is an instructional guide, there the author discusses how he took the various photographs and what makes them work, what filters have been used etc., much like any other landscape photography book.  In his introduction, Peter Watson reflects on why he finds landscape photography sop compelling and realises that his most memorable experiences, his Eureka moments, were those when he successfully captured the light.

Girl at a Window, Rembrandt Van Rijn, 1645

Watson. (2005) considers the work of Rembrandt, ‘whose masterly rendition of the impression  of light produced paintings that would immediately engage the viewer’.  I totally agree with this, having studied some of Rembrandt’s work, it is way he is able to depict or use the light that makes his paintings, such as in the picture of a young girl on the left.  Watson goes on to say that ‘four hundred years later, nothing has changed, light continues to stand alone as the foundation on which distinctive works of visual art are built’ Watson, P (2005) Capturing the light, p 11.

I quite enjoyed this book,  the pictures are discussed honestly including some which Watson himself is not entirely happy with and he talks about how, if he were able to go back and take them again, he would be able to  improve on them.

Lens, Light and Landscape by Brian Bower. This is an older book going back to 1993 and as the title suggests is about landscape photography.  The first part of the book provides a huge range of examples of landscape images.  The second part discusses the different techniques from composition to viewpoint to lighting and the final part focuses on equipment and materials; of course given the date, this relates to the older type of camera, film etc.  The chapter on lighting proved to be fascinating, not only did it reinforce what I learnt from the TAOP materials and exercises I have done so far and sometimes in slightly different language which helped my understanding, it also explained some of the conditions necessary to get certain kinds of light, particularly weather related.   This might be taking the topic of light a little far for the purpose of this course, however if you understand what kind of light different weather conditions produce this must open up a huge range of photographic opportunities for the landscape photographer.


About Anne Bryson

I live in Gloucestershire with my husband Iain and West Highland Terrier, Isla. I enjoy golf, photography and my grandchildren, not necessarily in that order! Having completed a 10 week digital photography course with the Open University in 2010, I decided I wanted to take my photography further and enrolled for the Open College of the Arts BA (Hons) starting with 'The Art of Photography' which I enjoyed so much that I went gone on to do Digital Photographic Practice and People and Place. In April 2016 I enrolled on my fourth OCA photography course, Documentary. This blog is my Learning Log for this course.
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