Bad Light

A beautiful morning Thursday in Beverly Massachusetts. I was there not to make photographs, but to get my car repaired.  By some accounts, Beverly is the birthplace of the U.S. Navy.  In recent news, it is the home of Angie Miller, a finalist in the American Idol singing competition.

Dane Street Congregational Church

After breakfast with a friend and a bit of research at the library, I walked the short distance to Dane Street Beach.  A chilly wind was coming in off the ocean, but that didn’t stop some folks from sunbathing.

Returning from the beach, I did not have a “camera” with me, but I did have a mobile phone that has a camera built in. Thought about maybe making a few photographs, but the time was almost noon and the light was bad.

What is “bad light”?  It is a term that outdoor photographers sometimes use. “Bad light” is often caused by bright sun directly overhead; it results in high contrast and hard-edged shadows.  If you look at a shadow (shadow cast by a tree or a person’s nose, it doesn’t really matter), the edge of the shadow can be a sharp transition from dark to light, or a softer gradual transition. Great weather for a picnic usually implies deep shadows with hard edges.

So, what is a photographer to do when the light is harsh?  First, you can make photographs in some shady spot; within the shade, the contrast is not as high, shadows are more subtle or perhaps disappear entirely (everything is under the same shadow).

Second, you might photograph subjects that are naturally high contrast.  So, on my walk back to the auto repair shop, I shot the two photos attached here.

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