Exposure Data: 1/13 sec, f/14, ISO 200
Nikon D800E camera, Nikkor 16-35mm lens at 22mm
“Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.” ~ George Eastman
When we look at a photograph, we are not looking at objects; we are looking at light reflected off of objects. The quality and nature of that light is the most important element when creating compelling photographs. Light can transform a scene from boring to evocative, giving a location atmosphere and mood. There are many types of light, but sidelight is my favorite because it adds dimension and form to the subjects in the photograph through the interplay of light and shadow.
I had photographed this scene the day before on an overcast afternoon, and the result was a dull and lifeless photo. I liked the composition, however, and vowed to return the next morning at sunrise. I arrived early on a bitterly cold and clear morning and set up my camera. Stomping my feet to stay warm, I anxiously awaited the sunrise. After what felt like an eternity the sun finally made its appearance. I made three exposures, one before the sun had risen, the one you see here, and another once the sun had completely broken the horizon. The first was too boring, and the third the sunlight too intense and overpowering. In this photo the sun had just started to break through the trees off camera to the right, bathing the scene in a warm and gentle light.
I used to say that winter is my favorite season for photography, but that’s not entirely true. Winter can be my favorite season for photography, and the resulting images excite me more than those from any other season, including fall. When the conditions all come together the results can be magical.
By Chris Murray
Chris Murray is a full-time photographer, instructor, and writer. His work has appeared in several magazines including Popular Photography, Shutterbug, Adirondack Life, Life in the Finger Lakes, and New York State Conservationist, among others. Chris teaches classes at the Thousand Islands Arts Center in Clayton and at Jefferson Community College. He is a staff instructor with the Adirondack Photography Institute. API’s 2019 workshop schedule is now available at www.adkpi.org. For more of Chris’ work visit www.chrismurrayphotography.com.
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