We all know that photography is all about the moment. That one perfect moment, or as we so fondly know it, that decisive moment when the the elements of our composition come together in an exciting and unique way. It’s the peak of the action, the perfect expression, the instant when all other concerns in the world drop away from our consciousness because, frankly, there is nothing else at the time that deserves our attention more than The Moment.
Unless we’re talking about the light. You know, that rich, golden, warm light that only happens at certain times of day, or when there’s a fire or volcano nearby, that bathes the scene so vividly and imparts such a special character to our subjects. We live for that light. We seek it out. We pull ourselves out of bed and out of the tent at ungodly hours while the rest of the people in our time zone still slumber in dreamland for that light. We chase it, on foot and in (or on) vehicles in order to preserve and capture it as it falls on the shapes, landscapes and people in the world that draw us.
Yes, photography is definitely all about the light.
Unless it’s about the artistry. Anyone can snap a photo with their camera, but it takes someone with skill and special creative vision to take that jumble of stuff in front of our cameras and arrange it into a simple and appealing composition in the viewfinder. Think about all the techniques and factors that are required to make a great shot. You need to consider the framing, the position of the subject, the inclusion or exclusion of certain elements in the scene, the color, the shapes, the dynamic qualities of the scene, and of course, you need to consider which lens to use.
Definitely. I’d say that photography is all about the artistic vision.
Unless it’s about the equipment. After all, you need good gear to make the best photographs. We’re talking high quality glass, lots of megapixels, high ISO capabilities, low noise. You don’t get that with a cheap camera, it takes…
Money. Photography is all about the money. Forget what I said about that other stuff, I was way off-base there. If you want to take great photographs, you’ve got to spend lots of money. Like I said, you’ll need a pro camera body, expensive fast lenses that don’t distort, that let you shoot fast in low light, and probably a couple or a few flashes, wireless triggers, diffusers and other light shaping tools if you’re into that artificial lighting stuff.
Oh, but wait. We’ve all seen those retired doctors and lawyers out there in the national parks with their really fancy gear and lenses that most of us will never be able to afford. And you know what? Some of them can’t take a picture to save their life. They try to force it. You can’t do that. Sure, you can zoom in on a far away subject, but just snapping a photo at the wrong time is only going to get you so far.
It takes patience. You’ve got to wait for just the right…
See, I was right. Photography is all about the moment. Unless, of course, the light is really good.
Senior contributor Dan Bailey is a professional adventure, outdoor and travel photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska.
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