Imagine for a moment your favorite place. Picture that place in your mind and identify the time of day, from which direction the light is coming, and your emotional connection. Is it a happy, energetic picture, or a mellow, relaxed and contemplative scene, or something completely different? Is there a sunset, or fog, or rain, or bright sun? Ask yourself what are the elements that get you excited. Photographers often talk about “Magic Hour,” Those few moments before sun set or during and just after sun rise. Everything seems to have more depth, the colors are more vivid, and there is an emotional connection.
So, what is your magic hour? While it is given that you will be in one of our amazing nature preserves taking a photo of something in nature, strive to incorporate the elements of your favorite place. Think of “light” as your subject as much as the objects in front of you. Take your picture, and then ask yourself how you can make it better – more texture, a more graphic design, what if you back lit the subject by coming at a different time of day to get more definition in the water, or deeper shadows in the trees. Often, I will be attracted to a subject and watch it over hours, days, or even seasons. I will return for a brilliant sunset or during a rainstorm. I gain a sense of intimacy with a place as I observe change over time. That might look better if I…. So have fun. Experiment with your camera. Make light be one of your compositional tools. “Paint with light” and share your results with us.
Joe Standart is an internationally known, award-winning photographer. His national public art initiative, Portrait of America, began in New London in 2004, and has been featured in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Associated Press, Photo District News, ABC News, NPR Radio, Public Television and other local and national media. Learn more about Joe