Aimlessly Pontificating on Photography

Origin of a name.

My blog has moved, see the new site at

It’s my birthday today, it seems appropriate that I would start something new. The name of this blog was inspired by a recent comment made by a professional photographer to a photo taken by one of my friends. He suggested that my friend might have been better served if he used the “correct” lens to take the photo.

I took umbrage at this (perhaps unfairly) because a good photo is a good photo, regardless of the method used in its creation. We have all these rules about what should be done and not done to create a “proper” image and I do think that it is critical to know and be intimately familiar with the rules, because it is only when you are than you can know when the rule book should be thrown out the window.

So why “Bad Light, Good Light”? Because it is recited as dogma that certain light is “bad” for photography and certain light is “good”. High noon is bad, sunrise/sunset is good. It is dogma. I read it somewhere sometime ago, where it was said that light can’t be bad or good, it is merely different. It was quite the revelation. I’ve never forgotten that, I used to recite the Bad Light, Good Light dogma myself, without a second thought.

The dogma is no different whether you are told that a particular lens is the “wrong” lens or the Rule of Thirds/Golden Section/Diagonal must be applied or Sports requires fast shutter speeds, and cetera.

I am certainly not suggesting that the “rules” be discarded, whatever they might be, but it seems unfortunate to assess a photograph first on the basis of whether the rules were followed and only in passing, whether it is a good photo or not.

In conclusion, may I present what I think is quite a good photo, taken in very “bad” light; late afternoon:

Bad Light


7 responses

  1. As a photography blog, I think this is an excellent first post. you have covered the basics of what you (and myself) think of an approach to photography, no rel wrong way and no real right way, just finding a way through the clutter to get a good shot. Congrats on the blog!

    June 3, 2010 at 7:39 am

  2. Nice first post, Nik–and a great title. That was definitely a refreshing topic–as photographers, we do tend to recite the dogma of photography and get “stuck” there sometimes. I like the photo you posted as evidence also–I’ll look forward to your future posts–have fun! Cindy

    June 3, 2010 at 10:13 am

  3. harry nawbatt

    Well, first of all HAPPY BIRTHDAY( belatedly). Not an expert in photography, especiall since I never have “good” pictures of me, but always feel that I take the best photographs, without even knowing which “lens or other technical pieces of the camera to adjust. Just have fun.

    June 3, 2010 at 11:50 am

  4. Hemraj Muniram

    Congratulations, Nikhil! A birthday is as good a time to start a new project. Yours is welcome. Of course, rules of photography are important; we must familiarize ourselves with them, and apply them. After we master them we can confidently manipulate them, even break them, to get an unusual shot.
    The “bad light” in your image above has produced a charming silhouette, what with the wires or ropes in the foreground separating the boats from the shimmering river. And the shape of those two middle ropes gives the scene an artistic finish.

    June 4, 2010 at 12:11 am

  5. Marianne Koch Nielsen

    When yet another year is added to your age, it’s quite naturally to feel the need “to do something”. This blog is a very nice idea, Nik. I’ll look forward to read more of your thoughts. I Denmark we have The Dogma Brothers. Lars Von Trier started the movement and showed the world that it is possible to go against the main stream and in that process, create something unique.

    June 4, 2010 at 1:50 am

  6. As a fellow photography buff like you I find your thoughts on the issue of bad and good light to be similar to mine. I never followed that dogma. If I did I would never get the shots people admire. While lighting is essential to the photo, to me there is no good or bad light.

    I, too would have taken umbrage to the comments by the pro about the lens. It is never about the equipment. Cameras(and lenses) do not take great pictures, photographers do.

    June 4, 2010 at 2:24 pm

  7. nicola

    “Aimlessly Pontificatng on Photography” I like that better that good light bad light. See growing up isnt bad at all. You finally figure out what u really like to do, eg, “aimlessly pontificate on photography” and youre confident enough (knowing by now that everyone cept you is an idiot, including supposedly “pro” photographers)to go right ahead and do it. Rules? Waht rules? I Rule. Nice bad light photo, btw, but id prefer it taller and narrower. Love the blog blog photo.

    June 7, 2010 at 11:38 am

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