Seeing the Light

Seeing the Light

Greetings and welcome to my first all Macintosh/PC-free post and photos for this blog. Life just got considerably easier! That said, I think I put together a unique and quirky set of photos nicely connected with a unifying theme …. light.

All of these images were the result of a few hours’ walk around Tallahassee, Florida the night before last. It was a very crisp and chilly night, so I had the added benefit of the clarity that often comes with cold nights. My intent was not so much the subject I was photographing, but catching the light just right to make dramatic or strong images stand on their own merit as photographic art.

~ click on any of these images to enlarge ~

Practically outside my front door, I was assaulted with this crazy sunset which I just knew I had to get. As I was setting up the shot, a friend called me on my cell to tell me that I should be out getting that sunset. It’s good to have friends like that!
Crossing the street to Lake Ella, I had my pick of interesting shots, but the light was changing fast, and I had to stay focused, or I was going to lose this wild sky. I’ve been seeing a lot of photographs of this beautiful lake in the center of the city recently around the social mediaverse (did I just make that word up?), and I just wanted to blow their shots out of the water. What can I say? I’m competitive!
After losing the light at the lake after a couple of shots – I went downtown to see what could be seen. The first stop a no-brainer. Florida’s capitol building is one of the most beautiful and perfectly lit buildings I’ve ever seen. The important thing here is getting the light right. Of course you frame your composition in a pleasing and effective style, but here I wanted lots of detail, contrast, and no blow-outs (lights that are too bright and wash out detail). This meant some long exposures, which in turn meant waiting and shivering and wanting a hot coffee while waiting for the shutter to close! Totally worth it!
Ok – you can only photograph a great building for so long in the cold….. time to get out of the wind!

A couple blocks away, tucked in between the Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science and the Challenger Learning Center is an incredible parking garage with the coolest spiral stairway going many levels down below the city – topped by an elaborate dome that is perfection in itself. I’ve used this location many times for portrait work. You just can’t get a much better backdrop if you are a photographer who prefers outdoor portraiture over stuffy indoor studios.
Not only concentrating on composition here – my goal was to catch and record the available light with its interaction on a multitude of surfaces, textures and materials. I used no lights of my own, or flashes. These geometric patterns and lines really added to the overall image and the look I was trying to achieve.
This last one was shot inches from the floor at the bottom of the stairwell. With a good highly adjustable tripod, you can get the camera this low so you can shoot a long exposure.

Finally at the bottom of the stairway, this is what was directly behind me. So cool! Almost no cars, and all these lights, colors and lines had me grinning like a Cheshire cat! When would I ever see this garage so empty again? Never? Lots of people out of town for the Christmas holiday! Focused and upbeat – I went to work, and these two images are what I came up with.

Afterward, it was time to head to Park Ave. where all the trees were lit up with lights, reflecting shadows and silhouettes of the Spanish moss hanging overhead from the old oak trees that line the central sidewalk. I’m so lucky to live in such a beautiful city!
To wrap up my walk around downtown Tallahassee, I wanted to get a nighttime street shot from the corner of Monroe St. and Park Ave. The lights in the trees, the traffic lights, and the passing cars were the paint on my canvas. The content wasn’t so important as the illumination. Now that is what I call seeing the light!
Rich Leighton
December 23, 2009

All images are property of Leighton Photography & Imaging and cannot be used or copied
without express permission by either Richard or Galina Leighton.

All rights reserved. Leighton Photography & Imaging ©2006-2009


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About The Author

Pro photographer, writer, master naturalist, Florida native in the PNW, lucky husband, father of two boys, big hockey and soccer fan, and native orchid hunter.

Comments (2)

  • Hapi

    hello… hapi blogging… have a nice day! just visiting here….

  • tagskie

    hi.. just dropping by here… have a nice day!

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