06 August 2009

Let's Play With Light!

On Tuesday, we talked about the power of darkness and how it is a great writing tool. Today we are going to talk about the importance of light.

English classes throughout high school and college were quick to point out light as a symbol for knowledge and truth. It’s easy to piece apart a story, find the different strands of light, and infer from what we discover. But if we do that, we miss the point.

One of my favorite hobbies is photography. I’ve always loved taking pictures, mostly because I want tangible memories. I want to be able to capture a story in a single snapshot, to find that picture that is worth more than a thousand words. In the past year or so, I’ve been able to learn a lot more about the art of taking pictures. Friends in the professional world have shared pointers with me. This past spring, my dear and incredibly talented friend, Kate Gazaway (please check her out because she is awesome—and she did not ask me to do this) patiently explained three main points of manual photography for me.

Simply stated, it’s a manipulation of light. Basically, the photographer is able to control the amount of light that is allowed into the shot by controlling the speed of the shutter, the ISO, and the aperture settings. Using this setting creates a contrast to photographs that the “auto” setting can sometimes miss. And then comes the fun stuff—playing with the light!

Below are three photos I’ve taken in the past few months. One was taken with a simple point-and-shoot that was on manual setting. The next was with my friend’s camera, a Nikon D40. I fell in love with his camera and promptly invested in my own, which took the final picture. (By the way, I have officially named my camera my “husband”. So if you ever read of him, please know that I am not speaking of a person).

The first picture, of my friend and an Indian orphan named Jyoti, is quite dark.

The second, of my little ones at Asha House in India, is so good. The light hits their beautiful, innocent faces at just the right place. Can you see baby Tabitha trying to stand in the background?

And finally, a picture with too much light. It’s overexposed, but I have to say, I love how the colors of the hammock just POP!

As difficult as it’s been to learn manual photography—and I am by no way claiming to be an expert or even “good”—the more I’ve learned about contrast, color, texture, and light. The science of photography is very much a part of the Art of photography.

Isn’t it the same way with us? How we use light—how we manipulate it, control it, and most of all, let it flow from us—will color the stories that we write.

What do you think? What are some tools that you use to play with light?

Tomorrow there is going to be a special book feature, partially because I have one that is so perfect that I can’t imagine not doing it and partially because I am leaving the country this weekend and will be away for a few weeks. I’ll explain more about that tomorrow. Anywho… I’ll see you then!

The children pictured above are a part of Asha House (or House of Hope) in India. They are sponsored by an organization called Sixty1. Please go to www.sixty1.org for more information or www.ashahouse.org for info on the children. Also, please feel free to message me about them, how to pray for them, or even how to sponsor them if you are interested.


  1. I love that picture of the children in Indian. The innocence on their faces is incredible. I'm at a part of my story where the light is coming through.

    Great post.

  2. That middle picture of the kids is beautiful. Oh! Is that where you're going when you leave the country? India?

  3. Jyoti, Tabitha, my dear Ragina...o the memories came flooding back!
    Great analogy :) And the group picture before lunch is, as it always has been, heart melting.


  4. Hey, Heather and Cindy! Thank you! Yes... actually, I'm going to Cambodia, but on the way back I'm going to stop in India for a few days and see those precious little ones. I am so excited to see them again!

    Jen, hope it didn't make you cry too hard! I finally had to take the picture off my desktop because I missed them all so much!

  5. Those pictures are beautiful! What a cool post and neat analogy!

  6. those photos are just astounding! good advice too.
    great blog. i'm following you now.
    you should check out mine. i do author interviews with give-a-ways, amongst other things books and writing.
    nice to meet you.