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Let There Be LIGHT

"And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness." - Genesis 1:3-4

Photography has come a long ways since its invention in the 1800's. Back then, photographs were made by coating a surface such as metal or paper in a light sensitive material and exposing it to light.

Around 1826, after much trial and error, a man by the name of Nicéphore Niépce (pronounced knee-epps) coated a pewter plate with a combination of bitumen of Judea (a naturally occurring asphalt) and left it for 8 hours in a camera obscura (basically a dark room or box with a pinhole in it) in order to create what is known as the first photograph. The light gradually hardened the bitumen, and the places left in darkness were not hardened and therefore washed away, leaving behind a grainy view of the rooftop and trees visible from his studio window in France. Niépce called this process heliography, or light writing.

In the 1830's, the term "photography" was coined, which combines the Greek root word "photo-" which translates to "light" or refers to something manifested through light, along with the Greek root word "-graphia" which means draw or write. Photography quite literally translates into "writing with light".

Photography has evolved incredibly in the past 200 years since Niépce created his first photograph. Cameras have improved almost every single year since the creation of the camera obscura back in the 1500s (which was originally used as a scientific instrument allowing scientists to view solar events such as an eclipse without damaging their eyes, but it also was widely used to aid artists in drawing/tracing). Eventually, lenses were added to the camera obscura to help focus the light and a mirror was added so that it displayed right side up (since light travels in a straight line through the pinhole to create an inverted and upside-down image).

We have since traded light sensitive coatings on metal surfaces/film/paper for digital camera sensors. In a DSLR (digital single lens reflex), light enters the lens and a mirror reflects the light into a prism and then into the viewfinder for the photographer to see. Unfortunately this means that there is a big mirror that is blocking the sensor used to create an image, which must fold up out of the way in order to take a photograph. It also means that the image you see through the mirror is real life, not what the final image will actually look like, as it is not able to account for your camera settings such as shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. The introduction of the mirrorless cameras relatively recently have allowed for cameras to get less bulky (no need for the mirror or prism), and a huge plus is that the viewfinder on mirrorless cameras actually give you a "live-feed" simulation of what your image will look like, taking your camera's settings into account. However, despite all these amazing advances in the last 200 years, photography today is every bit as much about light as it was for early photographers like Niépce.

When it comes to using light in my photography, I know it is absolutely no coincidence that I prefer to shoot outdoors in the amazing settings created by God himself, using His incredible light to document the things He created and all that takes place in this beautiful world. The sunrise and sunset. The sunflares and the glowing hair light. The golden hour glow. Things that simply cannot truly be imitated in a studio setting. The light changes by the minute, yet it always stays the same. A great photographer knows how to take advantage of the light in every situation, and use it to "paint a picture" in the same way an artist does.

Don't mind me if I change my job title to the "light-writer".... although, I know who the Author really is.



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