Light is everything

July 26, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

If you have read some of my essays, or looked at some of the images in either of my websites, the first thing I want to do is thank you! My chief goal is to share my vision of Earth, my love of empty spaces, quiet and solitude. To thank our planet for having allowed me to exist for a infinitesimal fraction of cosmic time. And I truly appreciate that you took some time to listen to my story. But I did not intend to get philosophical. So, if you have looked at my images and read some of the things that I have to say about them, you are probably aware of the fact that my philosophy is to manipulate images as little as possible. To let nature, not the photographer, do most of the talking. I strongly dislike "HDR" and I am appalled by software that can, for instance, invent any kind of sky and insert it into any scenery that one chooses. Leaving aside the fact that all of these techniques lead to aesthetic monstrosities (a subjective opinion, of course), there is the matter that such images do not depict reality (not a subjective opinion), and reality is all that I am interested in. 

But not all reality, or perception of reality, is equally moving. In my opinion, the light that bathes a landscape is as important as the landscape itself, perhaps even more so. I find the high-angle light of the mid hours of the day, especially in mid-latitude summers, to be outright depressing. I don't mean this just in terms of photographic possibilities (or, rather, lack thereof). I mean psychologically depressing. As far back as my memory can go (many decades...) I can recall a sense of despair coming over me whenever I am outdoors during the few hours that precede and follow noon. It happens to this day. For me, life ends every day two or three hours after dawn and begins again two or three hours before sunset. The remaining daylight hours I prefer to spend indoors, involved in some type of intellectual pursuit if possible, so as to take my mind off the horrors lurking outside. At noon, the most beautiful landscape is meaningless. At sunset, a plain city corner can become the most beautiful place in the world. 

Light gives, and light takes away. But the cycle is endless and predictable - one only needs to wait a few hours, in the certainty that the elation of the early morning will return as dusk approaches and noon becomes only the memory of a bad dream. Let us celebrate light, then. In a sense, all of my photography is a celebration of light above all other elements that make up an image. But why not be more explicit about it? In this spirit, I will be adding galleries to my portfolio that celebrate the light of specific geographic locations. The first two chapters focus on the light of some of North America's magnificent deserts: the Chihuahuan Desert of SW Texas and that part of the Mojave desert that we know as Death Valley


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Photos, commentary and opinions by  Alberto Patiño Douce

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