everything that light touches

What do you think of this statement?  "Everything that light touches is our subject."  It's one of my own sayings. I came up with it before the famous Mustafo came up with the saying: "Everything the Light Touches is Our Kingdom."

I believe that once light strikes any object it can be photographed in an interesting way. Photography is painting with light and we can always find interesting light.

everything light touches quote

The one fundamental aspect of photography that transcends the types of cameras, lenses, editing software, and all the other tools of digital photography we can use, is lighting. Light enables our brain to experience the world through our eyes and we get to feel an emotional impact from what we can see. That light can be varied in so many ways.

We are visual creatures by nature. The average human brain gathers about 90% of its information from our vision and the majority of us don't take the time to notice the diverse lighting that surrounds us. Until I started this photography blog, I didn't appreciate how blessed we are to have the ability to see the world in such a wide number of ways.

Photography is an opportunity to use light creatively and it gives you your own unique view of the world. Whether you seek to find unique light or you control and modify it, light is the paintbrush that ALL photographers use to produce their works of art.

famous everything that touches light quote

Coincidentally, when I was re-writing this post for you, a Google search for some ideas about lighting revealed a quote from the movie, Lion King . Did you see the movie or remember the great quote about light? It's that deep resonating voice of James Earl Jones.

Mufasa: "Look, Simba, everything the light touches is our kingdom." 

It's a famous quotation from a movie for kids, but perhaps there's a great message we adults can learn from. Can you imagine a life in total darkness for all of us? It's a bizarre thought for sure. But what about light and its influence on photography?

Here's an adaptation of Mufasa's quote that we can use to influence our own creativity with our photography. 

For photographers like you and me: "Look, everything that light touches is our subject."

I encourage you to look at light as often as you can and be grateful. Photography has often been defined as "painting with light."  Where there is no light, there is no photography. Now, granted, there may be some subjects that can prove challenging to photograph in an interesting way.

Here's an example of a perhaps not-so-pretty subject that is revealed to us in an interesting way because of the qualities of light that were present.

Interesting lighting ugly subjectInteresting lighting on an unflattering subject

A fellow pro photographer and I ventured into this decaying series of factory buildings and had a blast with some urban decay photography. Are timing was fortunate, as not too long after our photography session, the building burned to the ground and the remains were bulldozed.

the same light can touch an object in different ways

The many qualities of light such as size, direction, color temperature, diffusion , and intensity can completely change how an object appears to us. These two photos were taken within 60 seconds of each other in the exact same location, just at different angles.

eyeglass lighting comparisonOnly one change made in light source

Here's another example of how differently light can touch subjects in a variety of ways. Sunlight varies by time of day, time of year, location, cloud and atmospheric conditions. The more you become a geek of lighting the more interesting your photography can become.

Colorful sunset silhouetteTree Silhouette at Sunset

cemetery trees silhouetteTree Silhouette at Cemetery

But I'll suggest to you that we can photograph anything and make it visually interesting in some way if we can control the lighting.  You can isolate just one characteristic of a subject with a very specific lighting technique. One of the pillars that the posts on this website are built on is that we have amazing tools at our disposal right now when it comes to digital photography.

Camera designs, improvements in lenses, the magic of photography software, and a host of other camera accessories give you an all-time high for potentially breathtaking photos. Heck, even cell phone cameras can produce stunning images.

Despite this, there are a lot of not-so-great photos taken. Let's face it. We've all taken photos that we're not particularly thrilled with. 

just remember that everything that light touches can be photographed in an interesting way

Challenge yourself to pick a simple object and try to photograph it with 3 different lighting situations. That may may involve moving the object, shooting at a different time of the day, using the camera's flash, employing a flashlight, or maybe adding a reflector to bounce light onto your subject.

Being a self-professed lighting geek, I often find myself out and about and noticing the existing lighting conditions, whether it's the natural light from the sun, man-made light from electric lights, or a combination of the two.

You can take your digital photograph to a whole new level simply by becoming more observant of light during your normal day to day activities. The possibilities are endless!

Article published by Bruce Lovelace


Bruce is the publisher of this website. He is the author of the book "Improve Your Photography Instantly."  Read more on Bruce on his Bio Page. He's been known as The Traveling Photographer ever since 1994. Read more about this website.

View some of Bruce's photos on Instagram.   Visit the Facebook Page. Watch him on YouTube.  Bruce runs photo workshops for kids and adults, and provides one-on-one photography coaching.

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