Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Story of Light

Leonardo Da Vinci's 'The Last Supper' told one of the most important Biblical stories. For me the lighting (in the painting) was the sole narrator. If you look at the painting carefully- Jesus is lit up and Judas Iscariot is in darkness. The lighting on the apostles on the right side of the painting is the brightest as they were thinkers, whereas the lighting on the apostles on the left side is dimmer as they were skeptics.
Light for me has always been a major part of storytelling in every medium. Not just in visual reel medium such as photography, painting or film. But in real life as well. Without light there could be no vision or photography because it is light reflected from the world around us that makes things visible to both our eyes and the eye of the camera.

If you look at Rembrandt's self portraits painted throughout his life, you will see how he has used light to tell his life story. In earlier self portraits, the light is bright, to represent brightness and freshness if his youth. In the self portraits made later in his life, the lighting is so low as to imply that he was living in a cramped space. And the reality was that he was actually going through financial difficulties.

Photography wise no one can tell a story without discovering light. In my case here's one example. I was photographing this well preserved Hindu Temple in Rawalpindi which is 160 years old. It is located in the middle of the school for blind, hence it is further surrounded by noisy streets, vendors and busy life. So my job was to photograph the temple in such a way that I was in its original era and not in 2010. So I studied the architecture and noticed that they had made windows for light to go through and illuminate the frescoes which were all over the place- as there was obviously no source of artificial light 160 years ago.

My tendency to place scrutiny on lighting even in real life comes from my love of photography. And one of the literal definitions of photography is 'producing images of objects by the agency of light'. And so let there be light!