Addicted to great light

I know that this sounds like a cliché but good photos depend on good light.

I remember when I discovered this as a novice photographer.  My wife and I were holidaying in Western Australia in 2011 and I was using this as an opportunity to dip my toe into the world of DSLR photography.  We were travelling around the southern part of WA, often staying only one or two nights at each location.  One afternoon we arrived at Walpole for an overnight stop.  As I had been doing throughout this holiday I started exploring this new location and discovered a beautiful sea inlet only a short walk from where we were staying and gave my new camera a work out taking a range a shots of this idyllic location.  Quite content with my discovery I was very pleased to retire for the night with the usual bag of holiday snaps on my hard drive.


This night however a thought occurred to me.  I had read on quite a few photography sites of the importance of finding good light and of the importance of sunrise and sunset to landscape photographers.  As lay in bed that night I decided for the first time to forego the holiday sleep in and try to get up early to catch the sunrise.  Little did I know this would be a turning point in my tentative venture into photography.

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The next morning I found myself at the same landing by the inlet but now it was as if I had discovered a brand new world.  What had been a great location during the mid afternoon the day before had suddenly become a wonderland of colours, shadows and tones as the rising sun transformed the scene before me.  I could not believe what I was capturing.  So this is what they had been talking about!  This was a defining moment for me as a photographer.  It was as if a whole new world had opened up to me and I was filled with a sense of joy and hunger to keep reliving this experience again and again.


I sometimes laugh at my approach to photography now.  Although I am always looking for the next great subject my real passion is to find the next great moment of light.  I now find myself driving around my favourite photography areas at sunrise looking for that fleeting moment when the light changes a scene into something special.  It’s almost as if the subject now plays second place as I keep looking for that transforming moment of light.


Greg Johnston

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11 Responses

  1. That perfect moment, when colour bends to brilliant, I know the moment you speak of and have not only tried to capture it in an image but also in written words.. That beauty is intoxicating. I enjoied your blog Grag.

    1. Thanks Doodles. I can certainly understand when you describe capturing special moments with words. Photography, like all of the arts is more than just pointing a camera at a scene. Thanks for reading and replying to my blog.

  2. I can only imagine the wondrous sight that greeted you! I haven’t had this great revelation, this “great moment of light”, as you’ve described it, but maybe in small doses… The front window view I have which at normal times wouldn’t warrant a second look, but has provided me with countless breathtaking shots, depending on Mother Nature’s mood and what she feels like serving up for the evening! (I only face the West) Also all dependent on light and shadows, and colours!!

  3. What you describe also sounds like a really good advert for scouting and exploring the place you happen to be in, rather than doing a lot of travelling. Then when the light happens you can calmly wander around enjoying it and taking the shots you’ve planned, rather than panicking and waving cameras around clicking at things.

    1. You are so right Peter. I have read many great blogs by professional photographers saying just this. Some even suggest a long term approach whereby they get to know what to expect at certain places at certain times of the year and plan their trips accordingly. I am afraid however to be honest I am not as organized as this yet. For me it is often a matter of hit and miss but at least now I know what I am looking for in a good photo. ie. I have discovered the value of good light and that the quality of the light can make a good scene either average of amazing. Thanks for your comments.

  4. Well said Greg.
    I’ve read about people who visit the same location in all four seasons (obviously where they have four) to show the different lighting change of one particular shot. Thanks for sharing your story.

  5. Thanks Patricia. This reminds me of something a friend of mine said over the weekend. They were quoting a management maxim, “Perfect planning prevents poor performance”. I must admit however my planning is not always that organised. Appreciate you taking the time to comment.

    1. Thanks Richard. I think this is what I love so much about landscape photography. Ordinary scenes can become extraordinary at the right time of the day.

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