The common link of all photographs is light. Photographs are primarily stories about light. The physical content almost an excuse, a canvas to portray light. Light triggers memories, feelings, and emotions in the viewer. Light creates mood, drama, and atmosphere, setting the ambiance and basic story. Light also implies a feeling of time, something caught momentary and fleeting, an important picture quality. Observing and portraying light is an essential skill to learn.
Sky and clouds are forgotten jewels in a photograph, vastly overlooked given the importance they play. Sky and clouds set the storyline for what the weather conditions are, time of day and the quality of light. Sky should be treated like any other ‘physical’ object. They are quiet heroes; their role is not to dominate but be the stage backdrop against which the main hero performs without conflict. The composition of the clouds used to direct the viewer’s eye to the lead actor.
The direction of light is critical. Front light is dead, side light is life. The magic zone is side and front light or side and back light. Side light gives everything from buildings to mountains life, form, and three-dimensional quality. If the photograph feels dead when you shoot, it will feel dead when you print it. You can enhance what you have, but you cannot put in, what you did not shoot. Trust me – God is better at creating light than you are at Photoshop! God always wins.