If I want to hone my photography skills with the tools of silence, listening, observation, and patience, I am going to need to learn about light. Okay, so I know years ago in my teenage years with my older camera that used film instead of a digital memory card, I carried flashbulbs with me in order to handle the many low light settings I would find. Later I didn’t need to carry flashbulbs because the camera had a built-in-flash.
Back in that era it was hard to know what I type of shot I would get because I didn’t have the advantage of an LCD monitor on the back of my camera to immediately see what the shot looked like. But if I am going to move up my skills from my current camera’s automatic settings, I need to move to the deeper end of the pool of photography and learn what all the amazing settings on the camera can do to enhance any photo.
Discovering the best light for what I want to shoot is not as simple as I wish and now requires me to learn more and risk some bad shots while I am practicing.
Notice how light impacts these photos with this post differently. What does the light help you see differently or highlight?
The best light may be a matter of preference and what I hope to capture and will move me from the previous years of taking outdoor shots on sunny days with everyone squinting to now discovering the effect of the early morning or late afternoon light. That means adjusting my preference to not rise before dawn or disrupt dinner plans. But the result can be worth the effort because light at those times will reveal textures, shadows, and depth in warm and vivid tones. It will capture a more interesting view of what I see through my lens.
Photographers more knowledgeable than I would also tell you the best light can sometimes occur during a change in the weather when rain or storms are approaching or fog blankets the surroundings. And I haven’t even begun to explore where the source of the light is in the frame I want to capture…behind the camera or from the side or the front.
Whatever the source of the light or time of day or weather will impact the illumination of the subject. Photography is not something I want to simply be taking a picture (although that can be fine sometimes). The word photography comes from two Greek words: phos meaning light and graphis meaning drawing. Photography at its best is really “drawing with light.”
What fascinates me about what I am learning is how much the Lord can enlarge my understanding of light from His vantage point. From the very beginning of time in the Bible light has been spoken about as what God used to remove darkness. It happens first in Genesis.
“And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” Genesis 1:3 (ESV)
Both Old and New Testaments contrast dark and light. Often it is used as a metaphor regarding good and evil, God and the evil forces, or believers and unbelievers.
The Bible makes clear darkness is never equal in power to God’s light.
Jesus is characterized, as a Light to the world. The Word makes clear that in Him there is no darkness. But we have a part to play in all this as well. Jesus not only tells His disciples in Matthew 5 that they are “the salt of the earth” as I recently wrote about, He also says in the same chapter one verse later that we (disciples) are the light of the world.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 (ESV)
What does that mean for me, for you, in the midst of a world that seems to have an abundance of darkness?
One thing is certain that if we are His children and have accepted Him, our identity is no longer darkness, but rather it is light. And there is a purpose for us in that. We are not to simply bask in the light He has created within us. Instead we are to be what I heard a pastor recently say, “We are supposed to be darkness chasers.” Whatever light we have is to shine the truth into the darkness and bring glory to God.
We don’t need to have an enormous light to make a difference. Consider how much one small candle can illuminate a darkened room.
For this light to shine forth from us means we must walk in the light and not be drawn aside into the shadows and darkness. Listen to John’s admonition:
5 “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:5-7 (ESV)
His light in us has the capacity to reflect into the darkness only as long as we walk with Him, abide with Him, and stay true to the truth of His Word.
It also means we need to be responsible for the amount of light He has granted us and to shine wherever that may be.
“God has brought us into the light of His Truth, and we are to honor that always, both in our hearts and in our everyday lives.” Steve & Cheri Saccone.
And, if we do that,
“we can join His heavenly pursuits in some small way with the people He has placed in our path, then that is a gift in and of itself. “ Steve & Cheri Saccone.
The challenge for us?
Stay salty, shine brightly, and chase the darkness.