"It's all about the light."
The technology comes in handy of course. The camera, a decent lens, perhaps a tripod, filters and the wide array of photographic paraphernalia that empties our wallets and weighs us down. We also bring our minds to the task - not to mention eyes, hands and shoulders. But with all of that, without light there is no photograph.
We can sometimes use our tiny technological candles - speedlights and even torches. But in the end, if not in the beginning, we are dependent for light on a source which is not only beyond our planet but also beyond our control. Photography is a humbling art form!
Sometimes there is not only light, there is a light spectacular. There is such a display from the heavens that causes our mouths to drop open and our cars to screech to a halt at the road side. This happened a couple of Fridays ago.
I was taking a good friend on a short photographic expedition. The late afternoon had started very inauspiciously with a soaking at the Dark Hedges where the wind was also so strong that I had to fight to hold an umbrella in place for my friend to take a photograph. Hail beat down upon us. We drove to the beach at Ballycastle. Another violent squall forced us back to the car. And then the skies cleared enough for strong bursts of evening sunlight to catch the roaring surf. The sea was in wonderful form!
As evening drew on, and fortified with fish and chips - calories apparently don't count when you are taking photos - we drove towards Ballintoy. At one point the coast road turns a sharp corner before it plunges down towards the village. And this is what filled our eyes.
As often happens in these sudden moments I had the 'wrong' lens on the camera. But fearing the display would soon be over I used the telephoto end of the 24-120 knowing I would crop it later to include only a few foreground details, and in particular the iconic church building. There was something symbolic about it sitting in darkness, waiting for the light. It reminded me of the Van Gogh print in my office - Starry Night - in which all the action is in the night sky above: there is no light coming from the windows of the church. The church also is dependent on light from outside itself.
Finally there was the bird, soaring free, rising to the light. I'm not sure why it is that in my photographs I try so often to include a bird in flight. Perhaps it is because although I'm stuck on the ground, holding the camera, it is a way of symbolically putting myself in the picture.
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