No Such Thing as Bad Light

Claude Monet, Vernon in the Sun

It’s a common myth that photographers might as well put their cameras away mid-day as the lighting is too flat to take interesting photographs. The so-called “magic hour” just after sunrise and just before sunset is thought to be by far the best time of day to photograph, while straight-up noon is the absolute worst. I’ve (almost) always been able to find something interesting to photograph any time of day though. But then I don’t do that much landscape photography and figured for those who do, the advice might make sense. That is I thought so until I saw Claude Monet’s painting Vernon in the Sun at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha today.

Monet’s Vernon in the Sun that looks like it was done smack in the middle of the day, under a withering sun, with no obvious shadows. But yet his rendering of the washed out mid-day lighting imparts tremendous atmosphere and feeling. Now Claude Monet was the master student of light, often studying and producing multiple paintings of the same scene in various lights. So, maybe he was better at seeing and recreating the beauty in mid-day scenes than us mere mortals, especially those of us using photography as our medium of choice. But it does suggest that a truly creative photographer should be able to find landscapes with expressive lighting even under the harsh noon sun.

2 thoughts on “No Such Thing as Bad Light”

  1. Yes, it is a common myth that mid-day light is to be avoided. One reason i supose i often find myself phtographing on and within strong constrasty situations… Hi Larry, i am the second guy in the “Contemporary Photo Impressionists” book. Nice to find you. When not playing around with motion, movement and multiple exposures, i like to peer deep. Macro photography and especially floral macro work is my first love. Please check it out. When doing the macro work, often high noon provides the most rewarding light. Anyway, i’ve bee wanting to contact others from the book. Your first so i began with you and with the blog as my enrty, a place to leave a note and perhaps to start a discussion? Share/learn/teach. i wanted to reach out and see if those of us in this little gem of a book could at tleast start dialoguing with each other?

    rob bridges

    1. Nice to hear from you Rob. I checked your web site and really like your flower closeups. Abstract images without really being abstract. I just got my copy of the Photo Impressionists book today. I haven’t had time to look at it closely yet, but at first glance I must say I am pretty disappointed in the quality of the images. Perhaps your copy is different but it looks to me like they used very inexpensive reproduction. I’ll post more on this in my blog later, after I’ve had a chance to look at it more closely.

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