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In Pursuit of Light 

In a forum such as this one where people gather and connect about their shared love for photography it’s no wonder to me that there’s a running conversation about the value of light. As photographers it’s what we do. We search for light and we seek to capture any bit of it that enchants us. Sometimes it’s about replicating a feeling or documenting a moment and other times it’s about creating a new one. However you view your photography, your camera may be the brush, but it’s the light that you mix on your pallet.

Some people I know, are moved by melody; others by prose. More still, by taste, style or sense of place. Of course any combination of these in the right dose and application hold meaning for me, but nothing touches my soul like the sun. My love affair with the stuff (and consequently my roller coaster relationship with darkness) started before I ever picked up a camera, though. 

Every door I walk through, the first thing I see is how the light enters the space. If I'm coming to visit you, don't waste your  time cleaning up, just draw open the blinds. The corner of a room where sunlight gets caught fascinates me, and golden glowing edges of cheekbones or jars are the things of my dreams.

I know exactly where the sun falls on my sofa at every hour during every season and nothing makes me more melancholy than august evenings when the light begins to fade and I know what lies ahead.

Scientifically it’s a thing—this need for the ultraviolet. For those of us who are afflicted, there’s a piece missing and we are at risk during winter’s shorter days. Here’s where the camera comes in for me.  I’ve learned to get through those darker days by absorbing every ounce of sunlight I possibly can and drawing it up to the surface when I feel the weight bear down. 

I collect the light with my camera. It exists in my computer and in print for me to inject directly into my mood as needed. I walk through days of usual and ordinary and I see things that are anything but. Light becomes a commodity and it takes on shapes and forms that can brighten even the darkest days. 

I know I'm not alone in this need for light. Those of us who make photographs, we feed on it. Vitamins, light therapy, yoga, antidepressants. None ever really helped before. Who knew that a camera might be the thing that could actually do the most good?

And so, as the sun streams through my kitchen window later into the evenings now, the feeling of weightlessness is palpable. The emotional hatches, tightly battened down sometime early last fall, have been removed and I am liberated. 

Do you have a favorite photograph that is all about the light? Share the link below!

Image and words courtesy of guest shutter sister Amy Drucker. You can find Amy on her blog, at Flickr and on Instagram at @amy_druck.

Reader Comments (21)

the sun was setting - its the start of Autumn here in New Zealand - and my daughters beautiful wee friend wandered over and started dancing in it.............
April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRachael Brown
Lovely post! This one is definitely about the light for me:
April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCaryn
Love how you've articulated your thoughts about our quest for light. For me - it's always about the light..even on the most overcast of overcast days:
April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarcie
I so understand how you feel about the light. It seems that my life revolves around light as well. It determines my mood, in so many ways. Light and colour, or better said: the way colours are emphasized by the light. A beam of sunshine on a wall, a fresh and light room, flowers in the soft light of a spring morning.... it's what makes my clock tick.
April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKarin
I love the warmth of the morning light and seeing shadow patterns near my desk, especially now that the weather is becoming much cooler:
April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEmma
ahhh the light.....
how i love it
how i need it
and there is so much of it around and it's free....
here's some of the wonderful light i gathered this morning
April 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrakusribut
I love your beautifully've put into words my feelings exactly...x
April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFiona
Living in the desert now, I have light most days of the year. This has been a change for me coming from Canada. It has been a bit of a learning curve taking pictures here having to adjust for the mid-day sun. When I stumble into the perfect light situation in the middle of the day, it is a strange and wonderful thing.
April 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercarmen
beautiful post. i can relate so well to it.
here is a recent one where the light struck me and gave me a calm
April 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterspread your wings
Oh, I do seek light! It does brighten my mood! I like to capture flair too! One winter day I caught some dramatic light streaming in my house.
April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda
Oh, I know too well the search for light. The cats in the house know it, too!
Something about finding perfect light makes me sigh.
April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShirley LeMay
It was wonderful to find you here!
I could have written some of this myself, Amy. I, too, know where all of the pockets of light are in my house, throughout the day, across the seasons. When the late light returns to my countertop in the evening on the first day of daylight savings in time for me to prep dinner, I say a silent "hello, old friend." This has become almost like an annual prayer.

I think ALL of my favorite photographs are about the light - I can recall of one of yours where you caught a starburst of sunset filtered through trees last year - it made my heart leap.

Here are two recent photos of mine that feel all about light in different way - strong and soft.
April 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdamiec
I chase the light's a shot that is all about the light on the water at the end of the day.
April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWorthIt!
"Every door I walk through, the first thing I see is how the light enters the space. If I'm coming to visit you, don't waste your time cleaning up, just draw open the blinds."
Amen! That's exactly how I feel.

Love this post. I relate to it so much. I love the sunshine through my windows in the late afternoon. It is heaven to me.
April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTracy
I second your statement on not waiting time cleaning, as a matter a fact a little dust in the air might add some interest! Here a recent picture of pure light.
April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGabriela
you've articulated your feelings about light so well. I do have a few real favourites but I've deleted most of my photos off of the Internet. Here are two that are still online:

This one was taken late in the evening, out in my garden, using the very last hint of light:
and this one, taken in early evening:
April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiane M. Schuller
I did a report in the seventh grade about photography for my art class, and when I read the definition: "painting with light" I just about died! I wanted to DO that! And so my passion was born! This is my all time favorite of my photos, it is really the first one that I started thinking about composition and all that aesthetic stuff my camera could do.
April 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKelsey
Beautifully written, Amy! I can relate to both your love of light and feelings when it departs for the long winter season. Thanks for sharing!
April 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnna
We took our 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders on a field trip this week. We got about 60 kids up at 6 am and had them hike to this spot to see the sunrise. It was a gorgeous spot.
April 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMartha
What a beautiful post! I love what you've written here. The comment about cleaning made me laugh. I say dirty windows diffuse the light beautifully and make a built-in texture and a dusty house makes for great sunbeams. And yes, in a way, a camera serves as my lightbox -- I never looked at it that way before.
April 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersuperdewa (Deirdre)

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