Landscape photographers are always chasing the light. That incredible light that lights up the sky in purples, reds, and oranges; that washes across the landscape and bathes everything in soft colorful light. We live for those moments, but for most of us those moments come rarely. With as much as I go out shooting I only get that type of light 2-3 times a year, and often it comes so quickly that I don’t adequately capture it. Incredible light is rare and it’s why photographers frequently go out in adverse weather conditions, that’s when this type of light is most likely to happen.
Good light on the other hand is much more common. While still not happening every time I go shooting I probably get good light a quarter to a third of the time that I shoot. Good light is nice light but not mind blowing. It’s light that with the right skills, composition, and subject manner can produce a very pleasing image. With incredible light it seems you can simply point your camera anywhere and because the light is so amazing you have a great shot. With good light the photographer has to rely on their own composition skills and vision to make the shot happen.
In a lot of ways I find myself preferring shots with good light over incredible light. I know that it took more skill to create those shots. The images are also more believable. I look at them and know that if I were to visit that place, it shows a pretty good idea of what I could expect to see. They work because the photographer did their job and found beauty in otherwise pretty normal circumstances. I like that refreshing honesty in an image. I think if most photographers accepted that incredible light is indeed rare, that it is a gift not an entitlement, than we would see a lot less heavy editing, people trying to turn something into something it’s not with heavy doses of Photoshop. We would also see a lot fewer photographers running around grumbling about how the light isn’t good enough and ultimately getting no satisfaction from their photography, only frustration. I’m still chasing that light, but I’m also trying to learn to use the good light when it is given to me.