Author Topic: Lighting: A Shift of View  (Read 356 times)

Michael Erlewine

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Lighting: A Shift of View
« on: January 10, 2024, 07:41:51 »
OK, OK. Yes, this is winter. It started snowing a little while ago and will probably keep snowing for who knows how long. It’s beautiful, of course. And cold.

I don’t know whether it is just the winter doldrums, trapped inside like I am, that are getting to me or a certain change of heart and view that’s come over me of late. Either way, I’m embedded in a shuffling and shifting of priorities that is pointing inward.

And it is not something I can surf or just ride out, but more like an inner shifting or pivot, a reorientation. I’m changing. I’d like to talk about it here, but just how to do that I’m not sure. I will use photography as an example, since that is something, I know well and also what I consider visual dharma, ‘Liberation Through Seeing.”

In photography, lighting is very important, especially to the camera, because proper lighting makes it much easier for the camera and lens to take a photo without artifacts or approximations, especially if, like I do, we stack photos.

It’s no different from using our eyes to look at a scene that is not properly lit. We can’t see clearly or clearly enough. Come up with some good lighting and the scene is much easier to see and resolve. With photography this is even more important.

As a nature photographer since 1956, I was used to only using natural light, even in the studio, having two large south-facing windows and a skylight directly overhead. I fell into the assumption that artificial, or studio light was not ‘organic’ enough for me and I avoided it. I almost never used it.

Apparently, this assumption was just prejudice on my part, and I became aware of this when I happened to use a couple of studio lights set to daylight Kelvin. I live in northern Michigan and in winter it not only gets very cold, but we also get gray days all the time, sometimes for what seems like weeks at a time. Hard for me to photograph with no direct sunlight.

And so, when I didn’t have enough natural light and it was gray and overcast, I turned on some LED nights set to 5600K (daylight) and finished a shoot. To my surprise, when I looked at the results, I could not tell the difference between outdoor light coming in the windows and the studio lights.

And then it dawned on me that light was light and Kelvin was Kelvin. All this time I was excluding daylight studio lights from giving any kind of assistance, because it was not ‘organic’ enough for me. Big mistake, meaning I was just plain wrong.

There was no difference that I could see between the two types of light, natural daylight and studio LED daylight. And a corollary I also became aware of is that due to this prejudice, for many decades I never tried lighting my photography subjects other than with one light, outside daylight, either going outside or using daylight coming in a window.

And because of this, I didn’t have what are called hair lights, rim lights, fill lights, or anything other that one light source, usually called a key light. I did everything with a key light.

Anyway, of late, I’ve begun relaxing my light prejudice and, so to speak, letting the light in where it is most helpful. Of course, I knew by name all the different lighting techniques, and even had the equipment, only I never really used them. Now I’m exploring and using them. Oh My.

It's like a whole other world, the other half of photography is lighting, suddenly available to me. That’s the analogy using photography.

However, this is also happening in other areas, yet those are more difficult to put into words, and I’m still figuring it all out. My take on dharma is also shifting and that’s a little terrifying for me because I don’t know dharma as well as I know nature and photography.

To hazard some words, I will say this:

The dharma path I have travelled for many decades of course leads to this present moment. And as I take more and more of everything that occurs (and is present) to the path, the path becomes increasingly inclusive, ever widening until it is more like a plain than a path. The path is now everywhere and so it does not seem to lead anywhere else than here. And I’m here.

That should say something.

[Photos by me. Nikon Z7 II, Nikkor Z 105 MC Lens.]

Just experimenting
MichaelErlewine.smugmug.com, Daily Blog at https://www.facebook.com/MichaelErlewine. main site: SpiritGrooves.net, https://www.youtube.com/user/merlewine, Founder: MacroStop.com, All-Music Guide, All-Movie Guide, Classic Posters.com, Matrix Software, DharmaGrooves.com

Erik Lund

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Re: Lighting: A Shift of View
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2024, 09:23:36 »
I think many of us has been on similar journeys, so yes I can relate, only thing I will add is that it is important that you also get to utilize shadows and not least the transition between light and shadow.

PS Many 'cheap' LED and studio lights are unfortunately not emitting the full spectrum of colors like our big sun does - Difference can be quite dramatic and disturbing the tonality.
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Michael Erlewine

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Re: Lighting: A Shift of View
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2024, 14:02:10 »
I think many of us has been on similar journeys, so yes I can relate, only thing I will add is that it is important that you also get to utilize shadows and not least the transition between light and shadow.

PS Many 'cheap' LED and studio lights are unfortunately not emitting the full spectrum of colors like our big sun does - Difference can be quite dramatic and disturbing the tonality.


I have good LED lights. It will take me some time to explore this, and it's a lot of fun. Still tweaking my equipment.
MichaelErlewine.smugmug.com, Daily Blog at https://www.facebook.com/MichaelErlewine. main site: SpiritGrooves.net, https://www.youtube.com/user/merlewine, Founder: MacroStop.com, All-Music Guide, All-Movie Guide, Classic Posters.com, Matrix Software, DharmaGrooves.com

Erik Lund

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Re: Lighting: A Shift of View
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2024, 14:54:25 »
Obviously  ;D
For those looking to invest in LED lights an CRI scoring close to 98-99% is advisable.

I have a couple of LS-LED that are amazing.

For studio lights read the reviews, I chose to buy into Elinchrom, expensive and fiddley yes, but color and performance has always been high end.
Let me hear more about shadows  8)
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Michael Erlewine

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Re: Lighting: A Shift of View
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2024, 02:37:56 »
Obviously  ;D
For those looking to invest in LED lights an CRI scoring close to 98-99% is advisable.

I have a couple of LS-LED that are amazing.

For studio lights read the reviews, I chose to buy into Elinchrom, expensive and fiddley yes, but color and performance has always been high end.
Let me hear more about shadows  8)

I'd be glad to let you hear more, but first I have to get more. I have a lot to learn and I can already see that it's an art.
MichaelErlewine.smugmug.com, Daily Blog at https://www.facebook.com/MichaelErlewine. main site: SpiritGrooves.net, https://www.youtube.com/user/merlewine, Founder: MacroStop.com, All-Music Guide, All-Movie Guide, Classic Posters.com, Matrix Software, DharmaGrooves.com