When all you have is harsh light from hell

We are all educated that harsh light is not a friend of photography.  But what if you are stranded in a beautiful place and that is all what you have?

Just as I like to minimize my options and challenge creativity, bad lighting can often open small creative lofts in your mind and push your boundaries to what you think is a good image.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that good light gives good images. A good image is so subjective.  It is good enough if it makes someone think, and if it is only you that got a whiff of thought, then I reckon it’s ok.

The featured image above is a case in point.  I have always wanted to capture the curved steel of a barrier next to a road. I love the feel of infinity as the steel narrows and turns away. Some great professional photographers have done this so many times that I though I need to copy them. Well, sort of try anyway.  So as the universe wanted it, I got my wish granted. I had the opportunity of capturing a barrier in a safe environment.  Note, I am not willing to stand next to a busy highway snapping a barrier! This one was at a holiday resort and everyone was behaving.  The problem is that the universe was either smoking pot or exploding stuff. I wanted nice light. What I got was a vision of hell. Even my holiday sunglasses bulked.


I just had no idea what to do. Nothing seemed to be photographable.  I don’t get out a lot and go much less on holiday, so you can imagine my disappointment.

It was time for creativity to be pushed out of the envelope of normal. What-if. What-if I could replace a cliche and make something of it.  Why not challenge hell-light right on and expose its brutality.

I had my faithful 50mm on, the others were too far away and the thought evaporated before it could manifest itself as an idea. Maybe it was better so. I would have like a 35mm angle, but I recon the 50 did just fine, or worse, it was adequate (I hate that word).

Two things interested me, the steel of the barrier and light from hell that needed to be exposed for what it is.  There is just no way, even in hell, that I could expose for both. Not even the best black and white film would be able to handle such wide contrast.  Luckily for me a shadow saved the day.  I could expose only for the shadow, get it right and hell light could be exposed in all its oblivion through the contrast of the good. HA!

In my opinion I achieved what I wanted. I could mark the barrier image of from my bucket list, the harsh light was tamed without even compensating for it.

It was a good day 🙂


Harsh light photography

Escape into the shade when harsh light attacks and destroys the environment. If you look carefully, aim right, there is something lurking somewhere that will be pleasing. Just have an open mind.