Hiding In Plain Sight

My favorite kind of light to shoot is fleeting. It consistently appears like a ghost passing through my awareness. Soft, delicate reflections that drift slower than our patience will usually allow us to notice moving until its gone. There are countless memories stowed away in my mind where these ghosts have shown themselves to me only to have me scramble to dig out my camera wherever it may be only to find by the time I was ready to shoot it had already passed. Light is a force of life that reminds us that we must absorb these fleeting moments before they slip by, camera in hand or not.

That said, if you fancy yourself a photographer here is a challenge for you. Capture one of these moments. Surely you know the type. That tiny window of time wherein light graces a surface in a way so perfect it could only exist this way on rare occasions. It’s not always just a beam of light creeping across a wall. Sometimes it sneaks in through the window of a bus like in the photo above, perfectly lighting everything inside until it turns to another street or ducks behind a building. Other times it may be that perfect combination of the angle of the setting sun and the spot you are standing in that causes the world to illuminate in front of you.

Here is the tricky part. Once you find it, take only one photograph. Even if it’s against better judgement to do so. Just go with your instinct, don’t over think it, use what you know about good exposure and composition and trip the shutter. In limiting yourself you are playing along with the transitory nature of the moment. I think it’s an important lesson to learn and one I hint at often around here. Don’t let the camera get in the way of the wonderful things you seek out to shoot. Let these moments find you and simply live your life.

For me, photography is an experience in which you hold close the romantic nature of life and do your best to keep it from being forgotten. So keep your camera nearby and look for those softly lit moments hiding in plain sight. If you capture something feel free to share it with me through email. Maybe I could share it here in the future.


  1. shift - January 3, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    “Just go with your instinct, don’t over think it, use what you know about good exposure and composition and trip the shutter.”

    I can’t tell you how much I absolutely love this part. Too many times we get caught up in the details and miss that rare moment we dream of capturing. Thank you so much for putting it so succinctly! I shall definitely heed your challenge and share if I capture anything noteworthy.

  2. Daniel Wajda - January 3, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Any chance of getting a desktop? The colors are so perfect.

  3. jmabeeviz - January 3, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    I agree with Daniel, I’d love to have it as a desktop…

  4. Ryan - January 3, 2012 at 3:33 pm


    I stumbled across your site through the Path blog and to my delight, your work was refreshing and inspiring! I love the way you capture light and stick with prime lenses…same style that I have used and loved for years (even in my wedding photography days). Keep up the great work!

    I believe the link to your email may be broken but wanted to share one photo that I just love, not for the technical aspects but for the memories and emotion it evokes when I am reminded of the joy that my two little ones share when swinging into the sunrise and being at our cabin….http://ryanspics.tumblr.com/post/15125046307/swing

    Take care,

  5. Dane Henson - January 3, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    I love the idea of limiting yourself. I learned how to use an SLR only a few years ago on a film camera, but quickly moved to a digital camera because film was already becoming expensive. Recently, I was inspired to start using an older film camera again and it’s the challenge of no auto-focus, limited exposures, and expensive processing that has caused me to fall in love with photography again. It’s the thrill of the chase that captivates me, and the nervous anticipation as I wait for my film to get developed.

  6. Kyle - January 4, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    If the photography wasn’t worth coming for, then the passion would be and it couldn’t be any more perfect since you share both.

  7. Ichikasuto - January 4, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    I definitely would like this as a desktop also!

  8. Philip - January 5, 2012 at 4:25 am

    Just wondering… how do you get such perfect colors and that grainy feel? Btw I love all your pictures :)

  9. john - January 5, 2012 at 5:02 am

    Thanks so much guys, I’m glad you enjoyed it and those who have shared with me, thanks so much for sharing!

    The photo in the head of the article was taken with my little Olympus Epic Point and shoot film camera. The color simply existed in that moment because of the tinted windows, color of the seats, and Kodak Ektar loaded in the camera which has a fantastic saturation and grain. Because of its film nature I don’t currently have a large resolution digital copy of the image so it will have to be a desktopless post, sorry guys.

  10. Dnguyen - January 5, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    You’re probably one of the few photographers I truly respect, John. It’s like a breath of fresh air every time I read your blog, and view your photos. It all stems from the heart and soul. Photography for me lately has been constantly threatened by peers who only worry about the gear–what will it do for them–rather that what they can do with their camera. Thank you for reminding me of the good things. The things that matter.

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