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Business / Philosophy of Photography Taking pics is one thing, but understanding why we take them, what they mean, what they are best used for, how they effect our reality -- all of these and more are important issues of the Philosophy of Photography. One of the best authors on the subject is Susan Sontag in her book "On Photography."

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light as the "true subject" of a photographer
Old 07-23-2016   #1
aizan
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light as the "true subject" of a photographer

does anyone else roll their eyes when someone says that a photographer's "true subject" is light? maybe it meant something for some people, but it's so overused these days that it usually doesn't mean anything. on second thought, it usually means that the writing is not that good, and the photographs either.
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Old 07-23-2016   #2
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The statement certainly has relevance. Sometimes it is helpful to be reminded of the obvious.

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Old 07-23-2016   #3
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A photographer's true subject is stuff we can see.
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Old 07-23-2016   #4
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The statement, like so many others, can be overused.

I do feel however, if I were to remember more often the importance of how the light is interacting with the things I can see, I would take more memorable photographs.

Just saying, you know.

(So much for the serious photographer)
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Old 07-23-2016   #5
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It seems to me that there are different kinds of light... and cinematographers such as Bruno Delbonnel (AmÚlie) and Emmanuel Lubezki (Children of Men, etc.) use the differences quite beautifully... Maybe as a group more so than still photographers (???), I don't know.

I do hear you about over used tag lines... even as they point out who to pay less attention to.
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shoot b+w
Old 07-25-2016   #6
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shoot b+w

shoot black and white - it's all about light.... overused, maybe, but true!
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Old 07-25-2016   #7
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Never heard that phrase or read it.
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Old 07-25-2016   #8
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Very obvious statement from technical POV. Camera takes light and convert it to the picture. To me the better light is the better picture is going to be and often not only technically...
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Old 07-25-2016   #9
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If there is one thing I've learned from photographing is that any type of light can be used to make a successful photograph.
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Old 07-25-2016   #10
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"Light is everything" . . . I've heard it said that way.
True, and important in the sense that new photographers need to become aware of that fact.
And, as noted by jsrockit, there is no one "perfect light".
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Old 07-25-2016   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsrockit View Post
If there is one thing I've learned from photographing is that any type of light can be used to make a successful photograph.
I tend to agree.

I have found there is really no such thing as "bad light" in my mind, just light that might not fit a pre visualized idea that one either has to adapt or modify their vision for or just pass on entirely.

And the lower the overall levels of light there are, the more everything becomes an influence as a potential light source.
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Old 07-25-2016   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alistair.o View Post
Never heard that phrase or read it.
Same here. I've heard many references to light and why not? It is what makes our art work. But the same can be said of paintings. The difference between a well lit painting and poorly lit painting are very noticeable. But light as the true subject? I don't believe it stands by itself without qualifications.

Or, maybe I just need to get out more.
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Old 07-25-2016   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KM-25 View Post
I have found there is really no such thing as "bad light" in my mind, just light that might not fit a pre visualized idea that one either has to adapt or modify their vision for or just pass on entirely.
exactly! light contributes to the expression of the photographer's "true subject," which is something else, something more important, something more interesting.
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Old 07-25-2016   #14
FrankS
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Bad or unflattering light can ruin a photo.
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Old 07-25-2016   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankS View Post
Bad or unflattering light can ruin a photo.
Sure, it can... but you can also use that light in a different way to make a different photo.
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Old 07-25-2016   #16
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I've heard serious photographers only use the best light.
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Old 07-25-2016   #17
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Like the good musicians who only use the good notes!
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Old 07-25-2016   #18
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Interesting comments and perspectives. All well written
and provocative.
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Old 07-25-2016   #19
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I do not agree that light is the true subject but it is incidental and complementary to every image that we make. The ability to read light is vital to consistency in photography and once you learn to read light, you are truely in full control of the final result.
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Old 07-25-2016   #20
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The quote that I remember, is most often attributed to Vernon Trent

Quote:
..amateurs worry about equipment,
professionals worry about money,
masters worry about light,
I just take pictures...
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Old 07-25-2016   #21
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I only like taking pictures of the photons that bounce off of interesting matter. lol
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Old 07-25-2016   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tunalegs View Post
I've heard serious photographers only use the best light.
I think getting up at 4am to catch the best light is a mark of seriousness. It has to be pretty serious to skip that coffee and bagel.
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Old 07-25-2016   #23
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I spent a good year photographing light itself. My final 'set' (studio set-up) was a pair of yupo papers (a plastic watercolor paper) set up as a trap for light. As the color of light changed over the course of a day or few minutes I could capture it in my trap, minus any other 'subject'. My camera was carefully focussed upon the surface of this paper, and with a camera set to 'daylight' color balance, the changes in the color of light were recorded.
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