“And what, sir, is the subject matter of that painting?” (Critic) “The subject matter, my dear good fellow, is the light.” (Claude Monet)
I often talk about light as being a subject, not because it’s my orignal idea, but because once I began to look at light in that way, it changed my photography. Many others have influenced me in regards to this idea, from great painters like Claude Monet and JWM Turner, to current photographers like Jay Maisel.
In “Trail Light, Hudson Vaklley”, I certainly reacted to the mood, the fog, the deep greens, the gesture of the ferns in the foreground, and diagonal design of the composition. But it’s the light that makes it come together for me in a way that exceeds all of the individual elements I mentioned. Without that particular quality of light, I probably don’t bother to stop and setup the camera.
I’ve been up this trail countless times, and never felt inspired before to stop and make this picture in this spot before. You never know what’s possible unless you leave yourself open to awareness and discovery, and the possibility of seeing more than what is in front of the camera. Who knows how many other pictures I’ve missed because I wasn’t truly present, aware, and willing to suspend my pre-judgements about what I thought was possible. Lets just say more than I want to admit, and others I just never even had a clue about. I just didn’t see them. And I almost missed this one as well.
This is the path of vision, and seeing, and of maturing as a human being. What experience in life can’t benefit from a little less judgement, and a little more acceptance of what is. Waiting for conditions to be perfect rarely pushes us creatively.
My point is that as landscape photographers we must react to whatever is happening in nature, on an emotional level. Simply reacting to light and shadow is not enough. You must see something in what you’re photographing that others don’t see. That is something only you are capable of, no one else.
Watch my Lightroom workflow for this image in the video below – any questions, please let me know!