When I Fell in Love with Light by Matt Hill

Hi. My name is Matt, and I fell in love with light when I was 19 years old.

I was in a graveyard with my best friend, Bryan, my tripod, Yashica FX-3 Super 2000, Tamron 28-70mm, fisheye lens adapter and Vivtar 283 Flash. You know, we do strange stuff when we’re kids… and I liked shooting in cemeteries (snicker… and still enjoy it to this day).

Bryan and I were chilling like hooligans and dusk was rapidly retreating around the horizon. Magic hour was gone and the town of Flemington, New Jersey was lighting up like fireflies below us. Back then I was working retail and sometimes in the lab at a local camera shop while going to school for my photography degree. The photo bug was planted in me at an early age as photo editor of our high school rag, The Lamp. But strangely, I had not yet made an special relationship with light. That would change when I processed that night’s roll of T-MAX.

I screwed on the fisheye adapter to my zoom lens, dropped the camera onto the tripod, screwed in the cable release and trained the lens on the town lights below.

“Hey, Bry. Stand in front of this. Closer. Closer. OK.”

I opened the lens on Bulb, moved to the right, charged up the Vivtar and popped it on him on the yellow thyristor setting. Brian walked out of the scene.

“Wait! Why did you leave? My shutter is still open…” I said to Bryan.

“I didn’t know you were making a long exposure. Sorry,” said Bryan.

It was destined to be…

© Matt Hill

The moment I fell in love with light was when I made my first print of the above. I stared at it, wondering how the town below was in his body. Zzzt! When the connection was made in my head between extended time, movement and mixing light sources (i.e. flash and ambient) I was hooked. A lifelong passion for night photography was born. In fact, I even came back during college and shot 4×5″ studies with different light scenarios during magic hour. Remember how hard it was to focus a 4×5 in low light?

© Matt Hill

Yeah, the scans aren’t awesome but you get the idea. At the start, I focused on f-stops and shutter speed and ISO and focal lengths, but at this point light just overwhelmed me, and I started thinking about how amazing it is to control it – make it something less mysterious and more intentional.

Here are the steps you can take to get the same rush yourself.

  1. Grab a light meter (and my first was an L-58 Micro Mat given to me by my Mom!)
  2. Experiment, record and repeat.
  3. Somewhere along the line you call yourself a photographer.  :)

Don’t have a meter? Want publicity for your own creations on our widely-read blog? Check this opportunity out!

Sekonic is celebrating their 60th anniversary and are giving away three of the L-308S Flashmate Limited Color Edition versions. All you have to do to win one is write a story about when you fell in love with light. Details on how to enter here. Good luck!

Matt is the Marketing Communications Manager at MAC Group, who represents Sekonic in the USA. He is also a passionate educator of both night photography and best practices for Web, in addition to being an artist.

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