I can vividly remember when I first started “seeing” light. I was driving down a highway and saw a building on the side of the road that instantly caught my eye – I noticed the angle, color, and intensity of the light as if I were opening my eyes for the first time. Without light there is no photography, so why did it take me so many years to find it?
Even now it’s still a distraction. When I watch television I look at the lighting on the actors faces, I try to find the light in photographs (and even paintings). I see shadows, highlights, hair-lights, spotlights … you name it, I look for it.
If you don’t see light yet, make an effort and the conscious decision to see the light. If you are photographing a flower, don’t look at the petals, leaves, and stem … find the light, where it’s coming from, and how it reacts with your subject. If you are photographing a person see where the light is on their face, and also where it is not. If the light is not what you want to see then do your best to sculpt the light using anything from the side of a building, reflector, scrim, or alternative light sources such as speed-lights and strobes.
Do your best to find light everywhere, not just when you are with your camera. Look at the light when you are driving to work, sitting at your computer, and even at night when the sun is completely down. But be careful … once you open your eyes you’ll be enamored and infatuated with the light around you, and you might just fall in love with photography all over again.