Adam Barker: Go to the Light!
This photography thing–it’s about light!
I’ve had many people ask me throughout my career how I achieve “that look” in my imagery. My answer is always the same–it’s about being where you need to be when Mother Nature puts on the light show, and it’s about understanding how to capture it.
I can vividly recall what I would proclaim to be the exact moment that my approach to photography advanced from a casual amateurism to aspiring professional. I was driving along an oft-traveled canyon road in northern Utah when I glanced out the passenger-side window to see a gorgeous natural scene, replete with all-time light.
I did what most people do in that situation—I smiled, snapped a mental photograph, and kept driving. And then…I wheeled the car around and returned to the same spot. Despite the fact that only minutes had passed since that magical moment, the scene resembled nothing of the grandeur on the way up. I had lost that moment due to ineptitude and really, more than anything else, simple laziness. I realized then that what we see at any given moment might (and most
likely won’t) ever look just that way again.
Light is unique in that is affected by so many other variables. This means that is rarely, if ever, exactly the same. This is what makes our job as photographers so satisfying!
Take this recent image comparison from the Salt Lake City foothills, for example. Skies were gray and stormy that night in the Salt Lake valley, yet there was a sliver of sky on the horizon that gave me enough hope to get out and shoot some trail running imagery. We shot some stuff with killer clouds, and then we watched (and proceeded to run around like chickens with our heads cut off!) as the sun slipped into that sliver of sky and bathed everything around us in a hue of gold nearly impossible to describe.
The image comparison here is perfect for illustrating the immense power of golden light. You can’t replicate it. Two shots, nearly identical save for the ridiculous gap light in the image on the right. What if I’d missed that moment? Sure I’d have another opportunity, but would it looks as glorious as this???
Light like this is our winning lottery ticket. This is our jackpot. This is our payday. This is our pie in the sky. Light like this is what we live for. Find it. Shoot it.
You’ll spend the rest of your lifetime chasing it.
Written by Adam Barker