Posted by: travelrat | March 21, 2008

There’s no such thing as bad light ….


We could paraphrase one of my favourite sayings about beer , and apply it to photography:

‘There’s no such thing as bad light, it’s just that some is better than others’



It’s a field in which you never stop learning, and recent events have caused me to reverse my policies a full 180 degrees.

I used to take pictures on what I called the Abraham Principle, after the pioneer Lake District photographers, the Abraham Brothers. I held that they wouldn’t load a full-plate camera, a bulky tripod and a load of photographic plates onto their donkey and schlepp up the hill unless they were sure of getting good pictures. And, they wouldn’t go through the laborious process of setting up the camera and exposing the plate … I have no idea what they cost … unless they really wanted the picture.

Even though I could easily slip my camera into a rucksack, or even a pocket, if I took my compact, and film cost no more than pocket change, it was a principle I tried to abide by. However, several images which weren’t quite up to standard did get by, on the grounds ‘I may never pass this way again’

Then, along came the digital camera! Your pictures cost you the same whether you take five or fifty images. Nothing! Nada! Zilch! Jack-doo-dah! So, why not, whatever the light or conditions, take your picture anyway. You can take another at another time … if it’s an improvement on your original, discard the original; if it isn’t, bin the later one. Or, keep them both … it’s entirely up to you. Just remember a piece of advice I was once given:

‘The main difference between a professional and an amateur photographer is that the pro has a bigger waste-bin!’


  1. Thank God for digital cameras. If I had to pay for all of my bad shots it would be such a waste of money. Going digital has made me less nervous about taking photos but has probably not helped me improve my technique because I don’t worry about the light and so on as much as I used to.

  2. Agree completely … the picture above would maybe not have been taken if I had a film camera with me, as the light was rather iffy and I wasn’t sure how it would have come out.

    But, when you’re pushing pixels, it costs you nothing to have a go. If you don’t like the results, you can toss it, or even replace it on a return trip, when conditions are better.

  3. It’s so true that we can play and experiment much more now with digital. But, and I think it’s a big but, it also gets harder to control the number of pics we have to store/categorize etc. Even though we know that we can try a shot and throw away any pics that aren’t so good, we tend to keep more than we should—often because they actually are quite good.
    Well, this is true for Rod and I anyway.

  4. With the technology available now, even to the rankest amateur, a photograph can be ‘rescued’ by cropping or ‘Photoshopping out’. (I used to think such techniques were in danger of being used as props for poor photography, but there are some instances where ‘cropping in the camera’ isn’t possible.)

    You’re right, though … I have a file full of digital pictures I’d have tossed ordinarily, but which might, one day, be ‘rescued’ … when I can get around to it!

    ‘Digital techniques can make a good picture great, but they won’t make a bad picture good’

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