The Web of Light
Recently, I had the opportunity to teach a class that featured light as subject in photography. Light not as illuminator, or the properties of light, but light itself as shape. My interest was kindled through a koan ‘The Web of Light’. A koan is not solved with the conceptual mind, but it is a gateway to broadening awareness. In this case my seeing the photographic qualities of light as form instead of the subjects illuminated by the light was heightened.
I’d heard of the Web of Light once in a workshop and played with the concept before. ‘The Open Door’, from 2015 has light pouring in from the darkness in an abandoned mill space. It was the introduction to the metaphor of hope. Examples of this exploration while intuitive became more evident.
In preparation for the recent class, I looked at the work of Fan Ho, and was mesmerized by his use of light. Light had shape, substance; it connected tonally the structure in the images and was the physical subject of many of his photographs. I began to look for light as substance. I found light in the most unusual places; in alleys, interiors with directional light from windows and doors, in nature, and in Seeing Through where, in combination with color, the subject became secondary to the light itself.
I continued to explore this idea of the Web of Light in a recent trip to Italy. This connective tissue tied the composition of the photograph together. More importantly, light came to me once I was open to it.
I became part of the web, connecting to the scene in front of me and making my presence as photographer part of the experience. Here is the beauty of the koan, expending my awareness to that moment in time when the subject, the light and the artist all come together. As a compositional device, many great images incorporate the web of light; in a metaphoric sense, it becomes a very powerful means of expression indeed.
You can view more examples of the Web of Light here: