Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #186: Low Light

A warm welcome to Sofia Alves as a new member of the Lens-Artists team. For her first challenge with us, she has chosen “Low Light.” For my post, I’m going back in time to 2013 when my fascination with low light photography truly began.

That year was a low point in my life. We had flown to Boston for several doctors’ visits and rounds of medical treatment over two months.

But one night, as Rich and I walked along Newbury Street, I captured this image of a sleek and stylish salesperson in a high-end clothing store. This photo gave me so much pleasure and my first taste of the power and drama of low light photography.

Years later, in New York I captured this image in an art gallery. I loved how the people in the shadows at the far end of the gallery and the vague outlines of the artwork on the walls created a feeling of mystery.

Just this week, I captured this view of the Zakim Bridge at sunset. Because it was shot through a window, I had to use the magic eraser tool in Photoshop to eliminate some of the reflections in the clouds. Then I used the dodge tool to lighten some of the white cables of the bridge and the roadway below. I love how as the sky darkens, lights pop up throughout the city.

This next image was captured on a walk one evening in Vancouver in December. I love how the trees are silhouetted against the sunset.

This final image of a monk’s cell in the Convent of San Marco, I wanted to convey the austerity and religious fervor of these men who have lived and prayed on this site since the 12th Century in Florence. This fresco was painted by the artist Fra Angelico in the 1400’s during a turbulent time in Florence history when the radical mystic Fra Girolamo Savonarola railed against the immorality of the times and encouraged Florentine citizens to burn all their books and items of wealth in an enormous bonfire, known as The Bonfire of the Vanities. Savonarola who lived and prayed in this monastery, was ultimately hung and burned in Piazza della Signoria in 1498. Given these historical events, I processed the image in black and white to heighten the sense of drama and the dim lighting.

The drama and power of low light photography continues to inspire me. I’m often rewarded on evening walks by intriguing scenes that are beautiful and mysterious. It’s definitely time for me to go out again, camera in hand, and hunt for glimmers of light in the darkness.

Special thanks to Sofia for leading the challenge this week. Be sure to see her post at Photografias. We look forward to seeing your Low Light images captured near your home or far away.

Once again, thanks for joining our creative community and sharing your thoughts and images with us. Last week, for John’s Change challenge, you treated us to many creative and beautiful posts. We invite you to join us next Saturday at noon when Anne Sandler leads our challenge at Slow Shutter Speed. Until then, I wish you a safe and inspiring week!

79 replies »

  1. These are excellent low light photos, Patti. The first image is incredibly beautiful. Thank you for introducing the fresco by the artist Fra Angelico.
    That part of the Italian history always reminds me Mao’s cultural revolution.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Amy. That first image really opened my mind to the possibilities of low light. Thanks so much for your kind words on these shots. πŸ˜€πŸ˜€ Photography is always a work in progress! Oh, yes. Mao’s revolution and that repressive age with Savonarola. That’s a great comparison. I have to read more about Savonarola (and Mao). Fascinating. Have a great week, too!


  2. Wonderful response Patti – loved all of your images. In the bridge scene your edits are perfect. The bridge itself and the lights of the cars are wonderful. Your final image is immensely powerful and austere B&W is the perfect treatment. I loved the light in what I assume is a window on the right side providing excellent balance. I was unfamiliar with the history which is startling.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Tina. Thanks so much! πŸ˜€. I fiddled with the bridge scene for a bit. It’s tricky to find and eliminate the reflections. As for the monastery….oh….it was so chilling and austere. The fevered madness of Savonarola was almost palpable in his cell–which was twice the size of the monk’s cells. He also had a desk. 😁. It’s a fascinating chapter in Italy’s history. I want to read more about it. It was apparently a reaction after the Black Death pandemic (I believe).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A beautiful series Patti, I especially love the golden glow in the Vancouver sunset and the pink clouds floating in the darkening sky 🧑

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Jude. You can’t imagine how excited I was to capture that image! It was a real breakthrough for me. I’m so glad you enjoyed it, too. Thanks! πŸ˜€. Have a good week.


    • Hi, Karina. I know what you mean. I’ve struggled too for many years and discovered the joys of a low light prime lens (f 1.4). Otherwise, I fiddle a lot with the settings! Have a good week. I’m looking forward to your week of hosting. πŸ˜€πŸ˜€


  4. It shows how much you enjoy low light photography, you play with the light but also with the shadows in a very effective way. Your editing of the Zakim Bridge is so clever, but I have to pick the San Marco convent one as my favourite, for the photo itself, for the story behind it and for the treatment you gave it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Sofia. I appreciate your feedback on these images. San Marco was filled with shadows and history. The atmosphere was amazing. I’m so glad that the black and white helped convey the sense of the place and the mood. πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I liked reading about your fascination with low-light illustrated with some of the photos you have taken. That wonderful image of the suspension bridge is my favourite: such an effective use of the dusk. The first two show how shops and galleries intentionally use light to create drama, the kind which monks’ cells achieved effortlessly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, IJ. Thanks for your thoughts and insights. They are wonderful, as always. We are fortunate to have a great view of the bridge so I plan on taking lots of shots while we are here. I hope you can join us this week.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wonderful selection, impossible to pick a favourite – perhaps the night shot of the bridge?! And I really like your detailed descriptions of the circumstances in which each was taken and why the images please you.


  7. These are all so excellent, I could go back and look at them again and again. Clean, and conveying just enough of what you want to say. Monochrome – perfect. The Zakim bridge and the first image are mezmerising.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. YOU encourage me. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to pull off the low-light challenge. For me it is often a crap shoot, but it was fun to go through old photos and say..oh ya… that was fun.

    Your words here…eloquent. Your photos, a perfect fit. They flowed right along with your words. I loved the photo of the salesperson and was glad to hear your story of what encouraged you to continue with low-light photography.

    I appreciate your explanation of how you clarified the Zakim Bridge and loved the way you described the lights popping up as night comes. Always a pleasure. Donna

    Liked by 1 person

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