Then Light Came

I said I was going to write an article on light - how to understand light, the direction of light, manipulating light. Light is, after all, the most important element of photography. Light is what makes the image sing out to the viewer.

I even had photos prepared. Backlighting. Front lighting. I was sure I could dig up others that'd apply. I thought through the tips I knew, tips to make use of the light or alter the light. Directional light. Diffused light. But then something spectacular happened that I wasn't prepared for.

Light came.

Truthfully, I only went out to walk the dog. And maybe stare at the flowers in my garden for a minute. But my gaze was drawn upward to the most incredible light show prepared by a hand far larger than mine, and all I could do was stand there and stare.

Then it hit me. Camera. Right.

So I left the dog in the grass and sprinted inside, my husband yelling, "What are you doing?" as I flew by. It was all I had time to do, to retrieve my camera and stumble back outside. I couldn't change lenses. I couldn't ask questions. There was no time to think past putting the camera to my face and snapping the shot.

I felt lucky. Blessed. Because there I was witness to an event I had no control over, light I couldn't change or redirect. Light that just was what it was with me in place to view it, and, honest Abe, I didn't do anything but press a button to capture it.

Others viewed it after and gave me accolades. "Fantastic shot." "Great job." "Wow." "Nice." But it wasn't me. I didn't even check my settings. So if you ask me what did I do, how can you capture a shot like that, I'd have to say, "Get out of bed and walk the dog."

Oh, but be in a house with a beautiful view to the east in a state where you grew up in the middle of May on a morning when it's cooler than usual and all the weather aligns perfectly to create fog and light. Oh, and stand right outside your door where the camphor tree almost aligns with the oak tree at your neighbor's house. And then mash the shutter button.

Yeah, that's what I'd say.

Because though sometimes we can mold and shape light to our advantage, though sometimes I can decide to stand behind the flowers instead of in front of them, though sometimes I can decrease my aperture or alter my shutter speed, though I can up the ISO, yank out the reflectors, the diffusors, all the tricks of the trade, though sometimes I can do all of that, in the end I can't adjust the sun. I have no power over the time of the year or the seasons or the clouds.

I only have power over me, power to crook my finger and hope and pray I get it right, so you can stop for one minute in your day and stare at that image and not think of me, no. Like I said, I didn't do anything. But think instead of something grand, something magnificent, something larger than your desk, your couch, or your chair, something bigger than bills and illness and heartache. Bigger than politics or newsfeeds or social networks.

Think for just one second about light. About being there, the cool air on your skin, the rising sun in your eyes, and your little dog at your feet.


Suzanne Williams | Blog

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.