Rembrandt was a classical master artist and a principal architect of light and shadows. A photographer at any skill level knows the need for light. Rembrandt adored shade on the far side of a person’s face, hence a three or nine o’clock light.
Not being able to travel this year has allowed a break for education. I went to the Miami Institute of Photography for a week of private lessons to solve my boredom. The studies revolved around the hands of the clock. Six is the light from the bottom, and conversely, noon is the top light source. The models show an example of this technique.
Before we snap the camera button, the true artist must first envision the result. I developed a thirst to study more artist techniques for lighting.
Now, I am studying blind photographers such as Pete Eckert,”Electroman.” Do an internet search to enjoy his unique work. He is an inspiration to visualize the possibilities. His mind imagines the final portrait and then creates it. He roves around the model in total darkness, detonating the darkness with flashlights, lasers, candles, etc.
I admire the in-depth thought process and creativity. Timing, using Eckert’s methods may be a challenge for a travel photographer, or is it?
I travel with Harry Fisch, a renowned Spanish photographer, often. He taught me, a great photo comes from multiple pieces of a puzzle.
While in Cuba, I was standing on a corner, waiting for all the parts to assemble. The moment came, a lady was in a heated conversation with her boyfriend when an old classic car emerged. While this photo was not as orchestrated as Pete Eckert’s, I did envision it in advance. I had good sunlight.
The Miami Institute gave me another takeaway; the sun is a terrific backdrop. Think about it, if you have a flash, use it. The people’s faces will not be in the shadows, and the sun will be a vibrant backdrop. A reflector can direct sunlight better than a flash sometimes.
I used this technique in an old Cuban mansion to photograph ballerinas. One ballerina was shot with a handheld rear sun reflector and the second ballerina into the sun, with the floor being the reflector. The sun is intense and is found even in a dark room with only one window.
Rembrandt’s practices of shadows are in all of the pictures presented in the article. Photography is similar to golf; no one is perfect on every shot. Therefore we keep learning and practicing.
I am excited about the first two possibilities of traveling again in 2021 from Bangkok to Siem Reap with a trip down the Mekong River, visiting small villages. Secondly, traveling on to Croatia, keeping my fingers crossed.