My father was a photographer and in his day there were no digital cameras. Film and the processing thereof was expensive, so he was very fussy about the conditions in which he could be persuaded to take a picture. He was always moaning about the light. The sun was behind clouds, that refused to move, or it was directly behind the scene that he wished to photograph. Taking a picture “against the light” was taboo. Never mind if it was a situation or a scene that you knew you would never see again, “not worth taking” he would mutter.
The other condition my dad was always complaining about was “flat light”. I was never sure just what he meant by that as he never explained and I didn’t ask.
Like most people, I always had a camera, and I took lots of vacation “snaps”. Some of them weren’t even too bad, though I would never call myself a keen photographer. But noticing the light is just one more great change that happened to me when I returned to New York.
It was largely because the scenery here is so lovely that I started running around with my camera. Then it was Winter, and I have always been mesmerized by winter scenery. So too the advent of Spring which seemed to come in such tentative and attractive stages.
Finally Spring fully emerged, just in time to give way to Summer. And now I know what “flat light” is. I recently bought myself a new, slightly more advanced camera. When I examined the first set of photographs I was rather disappointed. I went back to read the manual. I never spend as much time as I should with instructions. I’ll begin with the best intentions, but as I try to absorb more and more information, my brain rebels.
So I had another go at it, but in the end decided to compare results from my two cameras, and that is when I realized that the disappointing results were nothing to do with the camera, nor even totally with the photographer. It’s flat light! I suppose if I had ever really thought about it, perhaps I may have figured out what the term meant. Absence of shadow or contrast! Of course!
I had certainly never thought that flat light was associated with a particular time of year. The only time I was really around when my father was using a camera would have been in summer, or in the tropics, so I never thought to make any association with the calendar. In fact it has come as something of a surprise even in my newly “aware” state.
I suppose it has something to do with the angle of the sun in relation to the earth? I am sure someone could explain it all to me.
In the meantime my canvas has got all filled in: (ref post of 29th April)