Friday, January 30, 2015

Exposing Light in Darkness

There are many things I love about long exposure photography. Light is king to a photographer, and when you have light on your side, it opens a world of options; not to mention a quality shot. However, shooting at night, light is not exactly something you have an abundance of at your disposal.

That is until you realize one thing; you still have enough light, you just can't see it.

Take for instance this first shot below. Standing on the south bank of the Thames river in London, I wanted to capture both St. Paul's Cathedral as well as the Millennium Bridge. I found my shot, but I just needed light. Opening the shutter for a mere 4 seconds (ignoring a couple other key variables for the sake of discussion) I was able to capture something very similar to what I saw with my own eyes. I love the picture. It's natural, vibrant, and takes me back to that moment. Someone can look at this picture and almost imagine being there with me.

4s Exposure
However there are other extremes. I camped one time during the winter with my father and brother (hunting) and the evenings were incredibly dark. New moon, out in the country, away from city lights, and sometimes overcast. At night, I could barely see in front of me if I went outside! So, as I often like to do when it's dark, I went to take a picture!

I carefully walked outside, found a spot to set up my camera, and attempted to capture the night scene. Of course in this example, it was far more than my eyes could see. The camper becomes quite over exposed, as almost a glowing beacon of light, while the background starts to come to life. My truck, the treeline, none of which was visible to me, suddenly is captured.

OK, not so suddenly, as this exposure took over 4 minutes! Though unlike the other picture, this is not what it looked like to me standing there. Quite the opposite.

     However, the light was still there, I just couldn't see it.

approx 4m Exposure

So, while fascinating (at least to me), what does this have to do with faith? Well, perhaps this doesn't have a direct link to faith, but as most things I try to relate, it simply is a reminder to me of something that I read. This time, a passage from Isaiah ...

Who among you fears the LORD
and obeys the voice of his servant?
Let him who walks in darkness
and has no light
trust in the name of the LORD
and rely on his God.
Behold, all you who kindle a fire,
who equip yourselves with burning torches!
Walk by the light of your fire,
and by the torches that you have kindled!
This you have from my hand:
you shall lie down in torment.
(Isaiah 50:10-11 ESV)

Let me paraphrase (and summarize) if you didn't catch that.
Those that fear and obey God will at times walk in darkness. With seemingly no light, they will still trust in His name and rely on God to be a guide. On the contrary, those that do not (fear and obey God) are like those that kindle their own fire. They try to light their own path. They try to shine their own light and wisdom. In the end, that path leads to death. (go ahead and read it again now if needed).
To me, long exposure photography (and my general love of natural lighting) is an interesting parallel to me trusting and knowing that His light is there even when it seems like it is not. Perhaps when I'm out alone with my camera on cold and dark nights, gathering light for a picture, I will be reminded of the Greater light that surrounds me even when I feel like I'm in darkness.

Maybe you will now too ...


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