On the Art of Fixing a Shadow

My older brother, Michael, who is also a wonderful photographer, once commented to me when I said I was a photographer of light and shadows and how vitally important it was to have great light, “it’s all about the light!”

In 1839, William Henry Fox Talbot, an Englishman acknowledged to be one of the inventors of photography, wrote about his experiences in capturing permanent images on film.

“The most transitory of things, a shadow, the proverbial emblem of all that is fleeting and momentary, may be fettered by the spells of our “natural magic,” and may be fixed forever in the position which it seemed only destined for a single instant to occupy… Such is the fact, that we may receive on paper the fleeting shadow, arrest it there in and in the space of a single minute, fix it there so firmly as to be no more capable of change, even if thrown back into the sunbeam from which it was derived.”

Although technology has changed the means by which we capture this fleeting moment, the idea and the art behind are the same   I’m always on the lookout for shapes, shadows, and interesting compositions.  Someone recently called me a landscape photographer.  Hardly.  It’s all about the light.  Whether that light is on a natural subject, something man made, or a combination of the two, abstracted or totally representational, my singular aspiration is to capture that magical moment for all time.  That is the essence of photography.  And, in a way, all of life.   

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