How Light Transforms

Have you ever had one of those moments where the lighting hits something in such a way that it's so marvelous that you have to stop in your tracks to take it in. The days that I shot these photos I had one of those moments. For the first set as I was walking down the stairs scouting for a location the sun lite up the corners of the stairs in a way that made my heart stop. In all honesty I can't logically explain it but in the mundane-ness I suddenly found a resolutely striking beauty. By the time I got my tripod out and set up the light was gone but I decided to take photos anyways so I'd be ready for the little time I would have when the sun appeared again. 

I actually ended up loving the photo on the left when there was no direct light. There is an ominous soft illumination coming from the sweat of my skin that highlights my figure in this film noir like way. Then we have the photo on the right that has harsh sun light and shadows that make it look like I'm finally waking up and coming out of the darkness. I really can't decide which one I like more because the lighting transformed the meaning of each photo into something completely different despite all other factors remaining the same.

Below in this other experience lighting completely changed the photo once again. On the left the lighting is harsh but the dead palm tree leaf creates enough shade on my face to give it an old Hollywood glow and the photo. On the right the lack of lighting and high contrast makes the skin look extremely lustrous and like a painter's brush strokes, creating a much darker and poetic mood. 

This predicament got me interested in researching a photographer that I consider to be a lighting master, Harry Callahan. He was known to photograph his wife Eleanor and later their daughter Barbara consistently. Everyday he would wake up early in the morning, go out to take photos and then come home and process his negatives in the evening. I was first drawn to Callahan because of his multiple exposure photos that many he made in camera however as I went through more and more of his work I was intoxicated by his eye for light. 

The way it can highlight a subject and transform a photograph into a narrative about  the relationship between people and things or other people. It can create metaphors about spiritual lightness and darkness, or about people and lifestyles. What is the lighting's relationship between it and everything it illuminates and how does it change the meaning of the photo? These are just things to think about when taking photos. Lighting can be an extremely powerful tool that can be used to change your photo from being interpreted as one thing to another. 

Harry Callahan