In the beginning was nothing, not even a spark of light for photographers to point lenses at. What on earth did they do? Spend more time in the darkroom, fumbling around with primordial chemicals and coming up with arcane theories about what light would be like if they could only see it? Things like zone theory and the inverse law, for example. In their spare time they codified everything and often made a grand mess of it. Some of them got so good at it they left to create the IRS, insurance companies, and Applesoft. But that's another story.
So let's start over.
In the beginning was nothing. The Lightmaker said "let there be light... and it was good."
Close enough. We can work with this abridged version.
Note that our Lightmaker made no mention of bad or mediocre light - it was all good. Previously, Darkness had the run of the place since before time was invented, so imagine the shock and awe that light must have caused with her sweet entrance onto the Great Dance Floor.
One swoosh and a swirl and paparazzi were instantly legion.
But let's back up yet again. In our photographic mythology, light requires a source, so the Lightmaker created an orb, a sphere which emits electromagnetic radiation, some of which we call light. Let's call it Orb A. Or as we know it, the sun.
But light is useless without a receptor - someone or some thing to receive and appreciate its existence. Darkness wasn't about to stand up and applaud, being so rudely upstaged, so some other mechanism was required. The Lightmaker solved this dilemma by creating Orb B, the eyeball.
Now isn't that interesting - two orbs, the simplest shapes to exist. One orb to transmit, the other orb to receive, each requiring the other, and the result is constant astonishment.
At any rate, we now have a handy, simple equation.
oA + oB = astonishment
The astonishing part for me is basic - neither light nor eyeballs have any function on their own; each requires the other. But put them together and... wow. Fireworks.
Oh yeah, we were going to make this practical, weren't we? Here's how.
Let's start with the Orb we all know so well - the sun. And let's use our B orbs to register Orb A's emitted light, whether it's incident or reflected. Then, knowing that we are part of the primal creative equation, start making decisions about how to make light behave. This orb-to-orb transfer business gives us enormous creative power, once we get cameras in our hands.
For this assignment, stay as simple as possible and dispel any notion of good or bad light. If light has no such inherent qualities, it's our own psychology that's providing them. Photograph light and its effects, but do so with a bright mind and a brilliant heart, as naturally as possible. If the light's "bad" figure out how to make it "good." The creative response and process is 100% internal. It's sort of like putting on glasses backwards, or standing on one's head, but understanding that light is as much internal as it is external can be the juice that turns a snapshot into a photograph.
If this allegory doesn't work for you, go back to your own roots. In the beginning was nothing. What happened next?
2017 is a good year to explore light and its myriad secrets. It will be a fun ride. Today we start at the beginning. Again.
Ideas for BEGIN AGAIN:
BEGIN AGAIN will run for two weeks, from Jan 2 through Jan 15.