See the light, grab your camera, get into action... It's a palindromic phrase (I just made that up - but it works like a palindrome... Kind of...). Get into action, grab your camera, see the light(!)... Either way, be prepared to seize the moment when it arrives.
Above image: Felpham at high tide. A receding wave courses back through a shingle bank at dusk.
Nikon D810, 14-24mm f2.8 Nikkor at 14mm, ISO 64, 2 seconds at f14, tripod
4th December 2015
The word photography is both a metaphorical and literal description of the process that it defines. It was created from the Greek roots φωτός (phōtos), genitive of φῶς (phōs), meaning: light and γραφή (graphé), meaning: a representation by means of lines or drawing. These roots combine to produce the compound meaning: drawing with light.
So essentially, photography is, by elegant derivation, drawing, painting and designing with light.
No light? No photograph.
And, as a general rule: great light, great photo; mediocre light, mediocre photo.
As far as I'm concerned, all successful photography, throughout every discipline without exception, is dependant on two principle things: the first is light and the second is timing. Ok, so without a camera to take the shot in the first place (and knowledge of how to handle it to produce a decent result) things won't work out at all well... But, assuming those fundamental necessities are in place, with your knowledge of your equipment (whether that's an iPhone or a Hasselblad), your technique and your understanding of composition sandwiched in the middle of the whole process, a great image will always be underpinned by a solid foundation stone of good light and topped off with the elegant capstone of perfect timing.
Timing - "le moment decisif" - as Henri Cartier Bresson described it in his seminal 1952 book, "Images a la Sauvette", the moment can be a mere split-second, a full five minutes, or perhaps as much as fifteen minutes... And contingent on the photographic discipline you are occupied with, all these moments, in relative terms, are fleeting and ephemeral. But whatever window of opportunity you are offered, you need to be prepared for it with all the knowledge you can muster. Your experience informs you and your awareness directs you in this singular moment - the point where information, experience and effort converge. This moment is frequently referred to as lucky (in a winning-the-lottery-jackpot sort of way) but, as Samuel Goldwyn famously said: "The harder I work, the luckier I become". There is no substitute for consistent, persistent practice and effort. And if you are consistently and persistently practising, then being in the right place at the right time to exploit opportunities becomes a lot more of a regular occurrence.
Above image: Felpham sea defences.
Nikon D810, 14-24mm f2.8 Nikkor at 14mm, ISO 64, 2.5 seconds at f13, tripod
5th December 2015
Get the timing right when the light is peachy (and when all the other elements you have spent so long practising and perfecting come together in a nifty convergence) and, boom! You've got a keeper.
Get the timing wrong and meh...