Farewell, Festival Of Lights

A friend brought it to my attention that yesterday was the last day of Hanukah, also known as the Festival of Lights (to those of you who celebrate it, Happy Hanukah).

This got me thinking about light in general.  Sunlight, moonlight, artificial light, candlelight.  Our lives revolve around light in some form.  Our crops need sunlight to grow.  We need sunlight to stay healthy.  We need light to see.  Etc.  And all this thinking about light, it’s sources and uses, got me thinking in terms of photography.

As most of you know, most of my photography is centered around nature and wildlife.  Many people wonder, what’s the best type of light for this type of photography.  And the answer is simple.

Overcast light.  That is, the light that you get on a cloudy day.  I’m not talking about the dark, dreary, clouds of doom bearing down on you, waiting to rain on your personal parade, type cloudy days.  More the gentle, bright cloudy days.

Why is this the best type of light for this type of photography?  That answer is also simple.  Because the light on an overcast day is muted and even.

Picture this, you’re walking through the forest on a nice sunny day and you see a vista you’d like to photograph.  You take up your camera and snap off a frame.  Then, in review, you realize that the image is too bright and higher in contrast than you’d like.  The bright sun caused what we call “hot spots” and some of the shadows are so dark they swallow detail.

Quoddy Coastal Trail (Bright)

Now, replace that bright sun with the muted light of an overcast day.  You take a picture of that same vista and are pleased to find that the lighting is even.  The highlights aren’t burnt out and the shadows have detail.

Quoddy Coastal Trail

The moral of this story, kids, is….Don’t be afraid of those overcast days.  Don’t wake up and say “Aw, it’s cloudy.  I guess I won’t take any pictures today.”  No!  Get out there and make use of that good light!

Until next time…




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