Saturday Night Post #58 : The Joy of Light

Even at it’s best, photography is not an art, or a science, or a technical accomplishment. It’s not a new camera, or a new piece of software—”…that will bring out the hidden picture within…”, nor is it about clever application of ‘Artificial Intelligence’—’…harnessed to enhance your personal view…’.

It’s about Light. Sometime too much of it. Sometimes a lack.

As one of my mentors was oft to muse, “We don’t stuggle with the light, we keep working to illuminate the shadows, and when we get the balance of the shadows correct, – there is our subject.

My dear old Mum, (Well she wasn’t that old then!) introduced me to photography with the family Box Brownie camera.  A cumbersome black box, with an ‘always on viewing screen’ and no batteries.

Her ringing in my ears, one great piece of advice, as I stalked “Blackie”, our cat, on the lawn was.
“Keep the Sun over your left shoulder dear!”.
Such was this sagely advice, that for the next twenty years, give or take a few missing memory cards, was the way I dealt with sunny pictures outdoors.
You can probably imagine my suprise when I discoved that the sun over my right shoulder gave pretty much the same result.

And the answer is simple really. Photography is about light.

We’d had a morning couple of hours at the Werribee Mansion Gardens and Ornamental Lake.

The trees in blossom were such an attraction for all sorts of birds, and there against the blue sky was a group of Long-billed and Little Corellas making the most of the amazing golden offerings.

Sun over the shoulder, Sunny Sixteen rule for exposure-the good old Kodak Film Leaflet, white subject on blue.  The sunlight controlled the shadows, and kept others as mysterious blobs.
Dean Collins might have been ‘The Master of Light’, but my Mum knew a thing or two about it as well.


9 thoughts on “Saturday Night Post #58 : The Joy of Light

  1. A beautiful image, David! And a reminder that our Mum’s (and Dad’s) gave us a lot of good advice. That often we didn’t realise until later in life!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, what would we do without the wisdom of our mums David? Beautiful white against blue with the Little Corella. I find white birds difficult at the best of time in bright sunlight, but against the blue sky with sun over shoulder, yes perfect advice!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Ashley, Those white details have always been the bugbear of photographers, from the beginning. Countless weddings of dark suits and snowwhite dresses in sunshine has been the bane of the old wedding industry. Thankfully the current generation is a bit more formally informal. 🙂

      For those that study photography, the White in bright-sunlight was the same as the old “Kodak Film Leaflet”. An Exposure Value of 16.
      I usually take out about 1 to 1.5 EV for white birds in sunshine. Thankfully the physics haven’t changed just because we shoot digital.

      All good.
      Thanks for dropping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful control of those white feathers in the sunshine. Mothers often do know a lot more than we give them credit for, at least at the time! The only time that advice doesn’t work is when the bird is on the water with the sun behind it, and wading really isn’t an option!

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  4. Hah!
    Thanks Eleanor, made me laugh thinking about it. Mind I could do with a bit of sunshine, just to have the problem. 🙂

    Ahh backlighting, thank goodness, that Dean Collins had some ideas on that. Must do a blog on it one day.

    My Mum also made me promise to “Stay away from fast moving objects, and things with sharp teeth”.
    I must have followed that as well, as I’m still here. 🙂

    Keep takin’ pictures, we do.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. G’day David, I have just read your last three posts because I wanted to lighten up this chilly Monday morning and it did the job perfectly fine. Somehow I could not put any comments except for this last post but I really liked your descriptions of birds in flight. I always liked your comment in Flickr under such photos and wondered about the technical details you used to reveal . Now I’ve got the poetry of flight. I also enjoyed the idea of the Wedge-tailed Eagle extending a fingertip feather and gliding away…
    Strangely enough I visited Jawbone and Werribee recently too. Jawbone was cloudy but I observed the Crested Grebe and shot some low quality photos. I could hear the Kingfisher in two areas along the river in the Werribee Park but despite my patience and efforts did not sight any. A lovely Red-browed Finch and that all time favourite Fairy Wren in the community garden plus a low cruising Black Kite somehow compensated the pain of driving in the city traffic. Looking forward to your next posts…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Adam, WordPress is a funny beast sometimes. Hopefully you’ll be ok next time.
      It is a lot easier watching the big birds, and Black Kites are a great example, as they work their tails and wings with a minimum of effort.
      We’ve had little luck with the Kingfishers along the river. Often hear, never see.
      Still we can but try.
      Jawbone is quite the interesting area, and given its among such an industrial/housing area, the amount of birds is always interesting. And at least its possible to get reasonably close. The Great Crested Grebe is a real bonus.

      Keep takin’ photos, we do.


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