Photography is the art of light. Without light, photography has no medium, and we cannot create our art. Light is beautiful in its own right. It creates such interesting textures, patterns and colors. It has a depth and quality that renders potential subjects in so many different ways. As photographers, it’s important that we take the time to occasionally play with light – to see how powerful it can be, to see how playful, so see what kinds of patterns and gradients that can be created. Not only will we learn much from such photos, but we can create intriguing photos with light. Yazmina de Gaye’s photograph, “Time & Motion…“, demonstrates the power and intrigue behind a good light study.
Metaphors aside, we all know that we can’t photograph light. We can photograph its influence on other objects. But light – without something to obstruct it’s path – is invisible. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun with it. Here, Yazmina has created an intriguing composition of lines, textures and patterns. All of which is made possible with light, of course. In theory, the two elements of this photograph could be arranged a number of ways – but only because of the influence of the light. If, for example, the light were evenly cast upon all surfaces, the composition would be effective in theory, but the photo would be boring. Add the light and control it in a specific way, and you are playing with light. In Yazmina’s case, the light control is also a subject within the photo – the blinds. Blinds are an interesting way to control light. It casts a linear pattern that is predictable when cast upon smooth surfaces, but unpredictable once cast upon uneven surfaces – such as this large leaf (My guess is it’s a banana leaf). The light cast upon the leaf gives the leaf depth and substance. If you really look deep into this photo, you can learn a great deal about the leaf, despite the fact that you can’t touch it. I can tell you that the leaf has a linear texture extending from the petiole (the center ridge) to the outside edges because of the all-telling side light and the texture it highlights. I can tell you that the leaf has a graceful wave to it based on the light cast upon it through the blinds – the way it is not straight like the blinds. I can also tell you that the leaf is somewhat transparent because the lines on the left side of the leaf are back-lit – not only because the direction of the lines match the orientation of the blinds, but because the edges are softer (as compared to the light cast on the lower right side). I love the way the light cast onto the leaf plays off the light cast through the leaf and the patterns that it creates. I especially love the juxtapose of the two light forms on the right side – the direct light on the bottom verses the through-light – cast from the back of the leaf through a curve in the leaf – about half-way up the right edge of the leaf.
I’m glad that Yazmina chose to finish this photo in monochrome. Light, as we know, has color. But if color were introduced to this photo, I’m not sure it would have the same effect as the black-and-white version. See how the light cast through the leaf is less intense than the light cast directly onto the leaf? In color, the direct light would be very intense, and it could even be very white in color. On the other hand, the light cast through the leaf would have a pale yellow or green cast (depending on the leaf color, of course) which would distract the viewer from observing the relationship between the two different types of light. Color, in this case, would be a bad influence – and I feel the photo might lose continuity.
As you can see, a light study such as Yazmina’s fine work is both educational and beautiful. This is one of the reasons why photography is so incredible to me. When I see a photo like this one which is comprised of two very simple elements (the blinds and the leaf), I am reminded by just how complex the world can be, and just how much fun light truly is. It is for that reason that I have chosen “Time & Motion…” for this week’s inspiration. Thank you, Yazmina, for sharing your photo with the Shutter Photo @ Flickr Group.