Finding the Light | Concentrated Light

When the light has to make it’s way through tight spaces, it behaves a little differently. Maybe it is coming through a window, but has to make its way through blinds and mostly closed curtains. Maybe it’s in a doorway or garage, where the light you do have is just filling the subject with light and leaving the rest dark, and the overall image moody. Maybe it’s the light that is just making its way over the rooftop and into your space, flooding your lens in a filtered sort of way.  Or maybe the sun is high in the sky and making its way down between buildings, or between trees in the forest, and filling whatever crevasses it can fill. When light has to go through something, through a tighter space, it’s concentrated light, and it has a different feel to it. It’s direct, but a little less direct because its squeezing through a space and being filtered, in a way.

To be more specific, let me share an example with you; in the neighborhood I live in, the houses are built really close together, so the windows on the sides facing the houses next to us, don’t get a lot of direct light. While the sun is higher in the sky, it creeps down between the houses and is able to partially make its way through those side windows. Sometimes it reflects off windows on the houses next door and comes in that way. I think it’s even better when that happens. When you get direct light that has to “fight” to make its way into your space, it’s pretty magical.

One year, we lived on the lowest floor in an apartment, surrounded by more 9 story apartment buildings. Needless to say, there wasn’t a lot of light. I learned a lot about light during this time. How to appreciate all kinds of light and to watch for the “peak” times to add some variety in my images. My favorite thing that year was, for a period of time in the cooler months, when people would open their windows in other buildings, the sunlight would reflect off those now angled windows, and straight into our windows. This was the only source of “direct” light we ever got in that apartment, but oh was it special. It was just this one beam of light reflecting several hundred feet, across a sandy road and between tall buildings, into our space. It had a glow that true direct light doesn’t have – it was this concentrated light that I speak of.

I’m pretty excited for this theme and I hope you are too. Please feel free to ask questions and brainstorm in the group. I love themes that really make us look for the light harder than we would with more obvious ones. Through this, we find things we may not have otherwise.

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In these images, the sun was heading down and just skimming the rooftops, being made visible by the sprays of water. The result here is dark shadows and bright spots just where the light meets the water.

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The light was coming through the window at just the right angle to create a narrow stream of light; a lower exposure dramatized that “concentrated” light and really put the spotlight on my sweet kitty playing.

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This image was taken at dusk, in the doorway. The light was just enough to fill his face, provide some nice catchlights in his eyes, but not bright enough to fill the space behind him. Dramatic concentrated light.

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In the above text, I talked about our current house, where the houses are built really close together. The result is the awesome light you see here in the two images above. It’s just barely making it’s way down at an angle between the houses and basically skimming everything it touches. It’s a little less harsh than completely direct light because of this, and it’s wonderful to work with.

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Just a couple more. Low light, low exposure, dramatic black + white edits.

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