Tuesday, September 17, 2013

CHASING THE LIGHT - AND PHOTOGRAPHING IT

Golden light hits the Chesapeake City Bridge. 1/160 @ f8, ISO 400.
Photography is about light. For me, it's the first thing I see, or don't see, when I'm making a photograph. Good light is why I get up early or stay out late. Light can guide us through an image or place emphasis where we want it. Light is everything in photography.

Sometimes light is what makes me grab the camera in the first place. That was the case on a recent morning in Chesapeake City, Md., when on the second day of a three-day transit moving a friends trawler from Cape May, N.J., to Northeast, Md., I found myself awake just before sunrise. I originally had no intention of taking photos that particular morning until I saw the light hitting the Chesapeake City Bridge. This was light, golden light.

Morning Light
The Chesapeake City Bridge and Chesapeake City, Md., are separated by100 years in time but inextricably connected today. 1/105 @ f5.6, ISO 400.
It was around 6:40 a.m. when I grabbed my camera, left the marina and started making my way through the town, pausing to take pictures along the way. Always heading towards the beautiful light on the bridge.

When covering an event I take a picture of the subject, move, take another picture, observe, take another photo and so on, until I feel I have documented everything about the event. My approach to the bridge that morning was no different. Take a photo, move, take another and so on, all the time hoping the golden light would last long enough for me to reach the bridge.

Looming Large
The bridge soars over the historic city and dominates the skyline. 1/125 @ f8, ISO 400.
I was intrigued by how the bridge, which was completed in 1949 and town, incorporated 100 years earlier, seemed connected. I wanted to show that relationship. The bridge dominates the skyline and while the bridge was beautifully lit, the town remained in the shadows. This allowed me to easily distinguish between the two, with more emphasis on the dominating presence of the bridge. Since this bridge soars right over the town, I have a feeling some residents feel that dominance as well, so, in this case, the lack of light on the small historic town is just as important in telling the story. Or at least the story I imagined that morning.

Bridge Base
The sun just lights the top of the reeds and provides a nice soft contrast to the hardness of the bridge supports. 1/45 @f8, ISO 200.
Chesapeake City isn't big, so after about 20 minutes I had made it through town and was standing at the base of the bridge. I just keep looking for interesting angles, still concentrating on the light and shadows, but now it was all about the bridge and that wonderful light.

After an hour, the sun had risen high enough that the light which made me grab my camera was gone and it was now time to return to the marina and prepare to get underway. Heading back I still took advantage of some nice open shade and made a few more photographs, but the golden light was gone.

Tractor
Even though the golden light had passed, the open shade of a porch provides nice even light on this old toy tractor which judging by the license plate is still being enjoyed today. 1/15 @ f5.6, ISO 400.
Seek the light and you just may find yourself grabbing your camera and turning an ordinary morning or evening into an hour long photo walk with magical results.
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