Into The Light

Backlit trees in the snow

Most beginning photography texts caution against shooting into the light and for good reason. Direct sun tends to bounce around inside a lens’s optics and create all sorts of unpleasant artifacts like flare and local loss of contrast. And although there may be some areas of the image that are washed out, the rest of it will probably suffer from excess contrast, unless you use a technique like HDR to bring out shadow and highlight detail. So, as a general rule, we are recommended to avoid the practice.

In this particular case I was actively trying to make an image with some lens flare to see how the step-down ring I’d bought would either prevent or minimize it (answer: it didn’t). In the process, I ended up with this picture, which I like for several reasons.

The first is simply that it is an entirely wintry photograph. I can’t look at it without feeling a little bit of a chill. The bare branches and thin but durable-seeming layer of snow give the impression of well-established cold. The shadows are blue and the light is yellow, but only just. There were some people out walking (you can see their footprints), but they’ve all decided at this point that they’re better off inside. The bright red berries, which you have to look for, give a seasonal holiday hint.

The second is the slightly syncopated symmetry of the image. Because it is mostly silhouettes and shadows, it seems to self-mirror both horizontally and vertically — almost. The balanced quality of this image, with the sun right on the center line, was an instinctive composition.

It pleases me to realize that I made it on the day of the winter solstice.


A Year Ago: Star of Wonder

Ice impression.Appropriately enough, this sigil was emblazoned…
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3 Responses to Into The Light
  1. --S
    December 27, 2010 | 3:11 pm

    Great shot! So cold feeling but warm too, like that first sunny day after weeks of winter clouds.

    So far as shooting into the sun, sometimes the flare is good. I occasionally take a shot with the intention of leaving the flare in during post.

    Rules are made to be broken, after all!

  2. Suzy
    December 29, 2010 | 8:40 pm

    It really is stunning.

    Hope you’re enjoying the holiday season. I look forward t another year of beauty through your eyes.

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