Visualizing Light

Over the past several years, one of the workshops I consistently attend is taught by Tom Bol at the Shooting the West photo symposium.
Tom is a lighting master. I recently picked up his blog again and noticed a piece from July 15th of this year entitled “Visualize the Light.”

In the article, Tom mentions how we as photographers are usually seeking the prime early morning light for its warmth and contrast. We all learn that the quality of light is often the factor that can turn any ordinary subject into a unique image.

What fascinated me during Tom’s workshops was how he would create the light he wanted and make his subject “pop” in his photos. All in a casual way, Tom never mentioned learning Kelvin or “the science of lighting.” Instead he would look at his shot, run a few test for camera settings, light distance, angle and power and then shoot away. It’s amazing how he can create such dramatic images under any type of sun.

After a quick demonstration Tom would turn us loose with his lights and let us start creating on our own. I was always impressed with how he would work with us, look at our images and then move the light a little higher or a bit to the back. Within a few adjustments we would be creating professional quality images ourselves.

After reading this blog post, I now see why working with Tom intrigued me. I just figured it was Tom’s experience that lead him to make his adjustments so rapidly. Now I see what really makes him a Master of Lighting. In his own words, “Visualizing light that isn’t present on your subject.” A true talent!