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PhotoPlay: Contre-Jour, a Reason to Take Pictures
I remember the darkness. The darkness and the photos.
In the two years after the birth of my first child, I lived in the shadow of severe postpartum depression that erased all memory except the moments and light I captured on camera. I felt as if I couldn’t see during those long months, thanks to the ravages of imbalanced hormones.
On the hardest days, I pointed my camera away from the dark into light. My photos became a sort of journal, a record of an otherwise forgotten time. I pored over the images, discovering how light banished darkness and changed everything it touched. I learned about bokeh and flare. I photographed sunsets.
What began in defiant light-seeking became a way for me to engage God. I’d hurl my doubts into the light as I took aim on an object that blocked it, daring God to make beauty where I wasn’t seeing any. Light filled my lens, obliterating hard edges from everything in front of it, remaking even the ordinary into something wonderful.
Friends describe my work with light as “The Kelly Effect.” This effect depends largely on contre-jour, a French term that means literally “against the light.” Claire Burge asked me to share the technique with you for this month’s PhotoPlay. I’m delighted.
To make a “Kelly” use of contre-jour, turn your camera toward the light and position your subject between the camera and the light source.
Focus your lens on your subject before angling the camera (in any direction) until the light filters across the object directly into your lens.
The amount of light in the photo depends on how directly you focus on the light source. If you focus only on the source, everything surrounding the light will be darker.
If you focus above or below or to the side of your source, you can fill the whole image with light, transforming your subject.
Directions for October's PhotoPlay:
- Choose a subject and a light source. (I recommend sunlight.)
- Follow the steps above to infuse an image with light.
- Share your images by uploading them to the High Calling Focus Flickr Group by Wednesday, October 19, for a spot in the gallery and a possible feature at The High Calling.
- Tag your images with “Photoplay 19″ and “THC.”
- If you're inclined to go a step further, join our poet friends at Tweetspeak who are asking Why poetry? by writing a poem about Why photography? or Why Poetry?.
- Drop your poem link on the T. S. Poetry Press Facebook Wall by Wednesday, October 19 and your poem may get featured here or at Tweetspeak or Every Day Poems.
Post and images by Kelly Sauer. Used with permission. Kelly is the Assistant Photo Editor for The High Calling. Her life and work are a response to God's visible goodness.
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