arts & music philosophy & politics

Let the Light In & Dark Out (Lessons in Photography & Life)

by Myranda — October 31, 2017

light, dark, aurora borealis, Yellowknife

Eliminating the dark by letting light shine in and more philosophizing on how photography offers an opportunity to look at life through a new lens. 

If you guessed that I called this one “Light Through Trees” you would not be wrong.

The world has been a little dark, lately.  I don’t only mean in the physical sense, though that much is true as well. The sun rises after I have walked to work now, and soon it will set before my work day is done. To top things off, it’s been mostly cloudy skies in between, leaving me longing for a hint of blue sky, a sliver of light.

Life has been dark in other senses too. It seems every day brings another story of an injustice done, or an abuse of power. These days, hatred spills out from dark corners I hadn’t realized it was hiding in. It’s disappointing. It’s heart-breaking. It’s exhausting.

I’m not ready to give in to the darkness, to the despair that would nip at my heels, looking to latch and pull me under with it. Instead, I am comforted by lessons learned in the recent photography class. I signed up for it in an effort to take good pictures on purpose. I always had some idea of what I wanted to capture in terms of composition, but despite a fascination with light (for example, I have an embarrassing number of pictures themed “light through trees”) I didn’t know how to to use it to my advantage, how to use it with purpose. I wasn’t aware how to capture it beyond framing what I wanted within the viewfinder and hoping the automatic settings could execute my half-formed vision.

photography, lake

My photography class assignments had me thinking about light and what I needed to focus on.

By taking a photography class, I am now looking into how to stop relying on the settings to guess what I want to see, and instead learn how to tell my camera what I need from it. I’m taking control. I’ve learned how it all comes down to light. It’a about: how much light you let your camera’s sensor pick up, how long you open the curtains to illuminate the image, and how much light you let in.

It’s photographing the Aurora Borealis that has made me think most of hope. These are the photographs I have taken late at night, sometimes beyond the ambient light of the nearby city, when the air is biting and you need to find solid footing by the feel of your feet. They are the shots you frame by instinct mostly, looking beyond what the eye can see to what it might see.

Here, in the darkness, the light is barely visible to my human eye, but if I hold the shutter open long enough, if I tell the camera to be extra sensitive to it–to throw the curtain wide–my camera can capture what I cannot see.

The light is there. Don’t give up hope.

Beneath the darkness, the light is still there.

aurora borealis, light

The light is there, if you just keep yourself open to it long enough.


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