Fascinated by the horrible light

When most photographers talk about “looking for the light”, they are looking for scenes where the light is falling on-to their subject. However, in this alleyway in Fes, Morocco, I was fascinated by how the light was not on the subject. I knew it would be an interesting task to make these images sing. I hope you like them, because this is what watching life in the Medina felt like.

Notes for photographers

My first approach was to bring up the shadows and normalize the figures to the same light values as the background. This was a horrible mistake. First, the images were way to noisy, second they lost the visual mystery which prompted my initial interest in this location and lighting. Regarding the noise. I’m shooting with the Olympus OM-D EM-1 mk II, still , although one of my favorite cameras to use. However, with its smaller (and now older) micro-four-thirds sensor, it just doesn’t capture the dynamic range of newer (and larger) sensor designs like that in the latest crop from Sony and Fuji’s.

So for a while, I put these images away. However, they tugged at my memory, and as I thought about them more, I realized that the reason I stayed in this area with the “horrible light” was because I was fascinated by this up-side-down and backward arrangement of light. The subject not really in silhouette, but certainly not lit. I stayed in this spot for quite some time and watched so many different people, doing different things, walk in front of me. So, on second attempt, I emphasized the contrast, pushed the noise reduction a light and concentrated on bringing out only the highlights in the foreground shadow area.

3 thoughts on “Fascinated by the horrible light

  1. Lisa Marie Stevens December 29, 2019 / 10:54 am

    Lovely images. I read a story some time back about shooting from the shadow side. You’ve done a fantastic job here. I am a fan of contrast so I find these pleasing. There is an Italian photographer, Marlo Saviano, who really excelled at this kind of shooting and treatment you are doing here. Thanks for sharing. ☮️

    • inancy January 2, 2020 / 12:43 pm

      Thank you for your reply. I’ll look int that photographer, but I can’t find any Marlo Saviano on the web.

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