Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to observe it close up. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out on a blanket under a summer sky...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics of photography to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. We'll explore the night sky, location shoots, using off camera speedlights along with nature and landscape. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

The Dark Horse Region

The Dark Horse Region
A View into the center of the Milky Way

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Thru the Lens - A Life Lesson II

Over the years I've discovered that photography often lends itself well to teaching life lessons.  Most of the time they may seem simple on the surface, but when you begin to look more deeply into the possibilities, then it actually makes a lot of sense.

One thing I preach when it comes to photography is that 'Quality of Light' is much more important than Quantity of Light.  Being able to recognize the difference comes with experience and more importantly, is more often found by simply slowing down.  But, the term Quality of Light also carries with it other connotations.

Living in the country, Kris and I love to sit on the porch in the rocking chairs on a summer evening when the heat of the day is beginning subside and the air becomes cooler.  We enjoy listening to the sounds of the evening as the night critters begin their symphony.  Across and up the road a little ways is a small pond that is filled with pea-frogs who with their high pitched chirping fills the evening with their song.  As the glow from the day fades into night, so fades our stress levels and a calming, peaceful feeling begins to prevail.

From my own experience and talking with friends we hear how chaotic lives become.  Although all of us experience chaos from time to time, my wife and I have come to realize that you just have to make time to slow down.  If not by choice, then sooner or later circumstances or health will slow you down...usually when you least want it to.  Case in point being my coming down with shingles a few weeks ago...still fighting some of the effects of that even now.  Guess I just let things chew at me inside longer than I should have and my body said it's time for a rest...if you're not going to do it yourself, then I'm going to force you to...and it did.

From our dining room a large window opens outward to the front porch and we often turn on the light in that room then dim it to a soft light so it will cast a warm glow into the night as we sit outside.  It's just enough light to break the darkness without creating much of a glare.  it provides a soft, calming atmosphere to our evening.  It is also what I call 'Quality Light'.

If we were to turn on the porch lights we'd have plenty of extra light that would flood the area...but we'd also have an excess of glare.  Within a few minutes hundreds of flying bugs and other critters would invade the area and before long what started out as a quiet evening would become an annoyance.

Life I suppose is a lot like that.  More than likely because of 'Glare' we allow into our lives, we miss out on opportunities to enjoy the stillness that we need.  The more 'Glare' we allow to flood our lives...often mistakenly believing we need it...the more 'Life Bugs' tend to come around and mess things up.

I think it is much better to tone it down...use the soft subtle light that God's presence in our lives gives to us that glows from within to light your way. There would be much less glare, more than enough light, and a lot more peace and quiet.  When the warm glow from inside the house casts its light across our porch all things benefit.  We are able to not only see more clearly the things near us, but it adds to the peaceful atmosphere of the moment.  When we allow God's love into our lives, that warm glow begins to shine from within and spills over to the world around us.  It does so softly, without unnecessary glare and by doing so calms not only our lives, but the lives of those who are near to us.

Taking a photograph during the middle of a bright day will generate a well lit snapshot...but will rarely create a photograph with artistic appeal.  Running around looking for something to photograph will more often than not result in not much return for the effort.  But, sit still for a while...just wait and watch until the light is low and soft...that is when the mood changes...the scene transforms into a image that presents itself from the realm of perfection.  'Be still...and know that I am God...'words that will serve us well if we only take time to apply them to not only our photography...but to our lives.


Maryellen said...

Keith, I so needed to read head knows it, but my heart is what needs it! Thank you for sharing your photos that so beautifully capture that moment in time and even more so, your insight and your heart!

Maureen said...

This is very good advice, on a spiritual level and on the artistic level. Art cannot be hurried. We sit out on the patio in the evening, too, with the low sunlight coming through the pine branches, illuminating the garden leaves. I'll take my camera out with us tonight.

Jenn said...

Great advice, Keith!