Story

Catch the Light

Published Jul 8, 2013 | View the Assignment | Features Photos From 14 Contributors

    14 photos selected by

    Alexa Keefe
    Photography Producer

    The Namib Desert, must be one of the most fascinating places on Earth, walking into the low light...

    #sand #namib #dunes #desert #golden #wind #namibia #backlit #light

    Fleeting or steady, capricious or intentional, light is the fundamental element of photography. Illuminated edges reveal shapes and textures, giving form to objects. Shadows and reflections create impressions that may exist only for a moment. Light plays with particles of the atmosphere to create layered dimensions. The ordinary becomes extraordinary, infused with mystery and mood.

    For this assignment we invited you to speak the language of light. You responded enthusiastically with more than 10,000 submissions of what this means to you, covering the full spectrum of sunny rays, filtered beams, ghostly illuminations, and otherworldly glows. You played with color and explored the power of black and white. The frames below represent examples where you harnessed the light to take your photographs to the next level.

    The shadow of a man lunching in a restaurant is projected on the wall above another table

    #interior #chair #glass #man #shadow #dining

    Light is time thinking about itself.—Octavio Paz

    To catch the light photographers must be watchful, still enough to notice our surroundings yet be ready to press the shutter when something unexpected comes into view. Whether a photograph is of something that exists naturally or has been conceived for an intended effect, an understanding of the interplay between light and form is paramount. Going one step further, we can use our cameras to catch light beyond what our eyes see, like the frenzy of hovering fireflies frozen in flight or the light of distant stars.

    i'm standing in knee deep water trying to get my camera just above the lip line to catch the sunr...

    #beach #sunrise #ocean #water #clouds #nature #waves #sunrays #light #sky #hawaii

    Editor's Note

    The sun is rising and perhaps you already have an idea in mind of the kind of shot you want—just ... More

    Alexa Keefe
    Photography Producer

    "Who am I? I am a St. Lucian who recently left home to live in Barbados with my new family. Havin...

    #african #black #natural #hair #woman #st #lucia #bajan #barbados #caribbean #lucian #girl

    Subtle light falling on the human face is a thing of beauty, and this story wouldn't feel complete without an example. While natural light is the classic choice, a carefully lit situation can be equally powerful.

    Wild dolphins normally go hunting in deeper waters at sunset, but they have to surface to catch a...

    #sun #silhouette #water #dolphins #nature #mammals #sunrays #light #swim #animal #wildlife #dolphin #sea

    Editor's Note

    The light gilding the outline of the dolphin in the foreground is the first thing that catches my... More

    Alexa Keefe
    Photography Producer

    Its in the night when different and original shapes appear. Its necessary to keep the eyes open a...

    #mysterious #music #room #sillhouette #night #lowlight #shadows #art #light #bizzare #nighttime #people

    One morning I looked out my window and saw that...

    #sun #reflection #sunbeam

    Winter sunset in the Italian Dolomites on a backcountry traverse. The last rays of sunlight hit t...

    #alpine #winter #mountaineering #alps #black_and_white #nature #sunset #dolomites #adventure

    Editor's Note

    Experiencing images in black and white focuses the eye on the basics of light and composition without the distraction of color. The texture of the illuminated rock face sings in contrast with the shadows and sky.

    Alexa Keefe
    Photography Producer

    The backside of a purple geranium on a sunny day.

    #transparencydelicateflower

    The combination of bright light and color work to create this luminous gem—and to reveal patterns we otherwise would not see. A humble geranium is transformed into a work of art.

    This photo was taken during a procession in Antigua Guatemala during Holy Week.

    #light #antiguaguatemala #holyweek #semanasanta #procession

    Editor's Note

    The light shining through the smoke creates an aura of mystery perfectly in sync with the event itself. Being eye level with the faces in the crowd, I feel an intimacy with the crowd, almost as if I were there.

    Alexa Keefe
    Photography Producer

    Lost in life stile - Childhood especially the urban childhood is loosing its essence under mammo...

    #canitouchyou

    Editor's Note

    I love the boy emerging from the shadows, illuminated just enough to make out the playful express... More

    Alexa Keefe
    Photography Producer

    Sunlight effects at the railway station can make an everyday spot kind of magic! Taken at Santa J...

    #train #travel #black_and_white #station #transportation #city #light #people #urban #trip #railway

    Editor's Note

    The photographer's choice of vantage point—standing inside the tunnel looking out towards the light—works on a conceptual as well as an artistic level. We experience the feeling of going from shadow to light as well as details we may otherwise miss, such as the illuminated rafters and the silhouette of the... More

    Alexa Keefe
    Photography Producer

    Blue Ghost Fireflies in Brevard, North Carolina. Blue Ghost fireflies are unique because they sta...

    #trees #lightningbugs #explore #forest #bioluminescence #nature #timelapse #fireflies #bugs #light

    Editor's Note

    The woods are alive! Fireflies are magic in and of themselves, but seeing them en masse, emerging... More

    Alexa Keefe
    Photography Producer

    Kozji Vrh is a village in Gorski Kotar, Croatia, along the border with Slovenia. Because of the i...

    #nightsky #landscape #explore #cabin #night #ray #nature #greatnature #light #sky #cosmos #stars #travel

    Editor's Note

    The juxtaposition of the vast, starry sky and the cozy interior light of the cabin is clean, simple, and clear. This is a familiar, iconic scene but no less pleasing for it.

    Alexa Keefe
    Photography Producer

    To be a photographer is to be a master of light, to be fluent in the interplay of composition, shape, and color exactly as it exists in any given moment. The story told by a particular familiar scene becomes altogether different depending on time of day, weather, the angle of the light, or the position of your subject. A quiet forest floor hums with life in the twilight, a building facade on your street is suddenly covered in tiny panes of light as the sun hits the opposite windows just so, a brief ray of light illuminates grains of sand blown by the wind. You are there, watchful and ready, to catch the light.

    About the Editor
    Alexa Keefe
    Photography Producer
    Alexa Keefe has been working with photography for over ten years as a photo librarian, photo editor, and photo producer. She is the Photography Producer for nationalgeographic.com and the editor of Photo of the Day.
    48 comments
    Rajendra Ray
    Rajendra Ray

    Some shots are too good. Congratulations to all winners!

    Adnan Khan
    Adnan Khan

    I am student studying my degree can i submit any photos and be a part of any assignment would i like and update photos 

    jayantilal parmar
    jayantilal parmar

    i am not a writer  can i submit photos-how can i create story

    Peter Walsh
    Peter Walsh

    Can you tell me what the next assignment will be?

    Prathapan C R
    Prathapan C R

    Thanks Ms.Alexa Keefe for the tedious work you have done in sorting out these splendid photographs out of 9970 submissions. Your notes are real learning.

    PANKAJ S.
    PANKAJ S.

    Wow its nice see all this ...A great learning too

    Miranda Rajkumari
    Miranda Rajkumari

    All wonderful photographs. Congratulations to all the published photographers and to the curator who has done a wonderful job. These assignments have really helped me in my photographic vision and to see differently when I take pictures these days :)

    Min lama
    Min lama

    National geographic good  but i like to upload my unique Photo ,how to upload ?

    Kathleen (Fawn) Patricia Chute
    Kathleen (Fawn) Patricia Chute

    I think the assignments are an awesome start to a great trend on National geographic.

    I enjoy sharing my images but I also enjoy learning from other artist as well.

    If you open your mind to more ideas you are learning and become better.

    That can  only complement the artist and the viewer.

    In Photography, you need to speak to both for the best results.

    Thank you for this opportunity to submit my work with an awesome community.

    Kathleen

    Freddy Booth
    Freddy Booth

    Whoa!... i enthusiastically started submitting images for fun without really knowing how this worked. Started to think i was doing it in vain and thought no one even looked. Haven't checked my account in weeks and this completely humbled me! Mahalo nui loa for putting wind back into my sails. Aloha! 

    Michele Sutton
    Michele Sutton

    Congratulations to all winners!!!  These are truly amazing!!

    Sougata Ghosh
    Sougata Ghosh

    The photos are amazing ! Wish I could get those shots some day !

    Shivji Joshi
    Shivji Joshi

    Light is the  life of Photography and selected photographs fully justified the theme.Congratulations to both photographers for their success and to the editor Alexa for  interpreting light in it's different moods.I love her choice.

    Abdulrahman Alhinai
    Abdulrahman Alhinai

    Well Done. An excellent choice of selected pictures. Great Story. Congratulations to all Photographers for their selected works.

    Sumit Singh
    Sumit Singh

    nice photos with beautiful concepts.....................


    stefano spezi
    stefano spezi

    I can't thank enough the Editors for the great honour !! I am so excited for being selected, still can't believe it ... Congrats to all hundreds of outsanding photos submitted !!!

    samrat goswami
    samrat goswami

    Thanks  a lot to all participates & specially  to Keefe. I am very much honored in this regard.

    Karin Eibenberger
    Karin Eibenberger

    Congratulations to everybody being selected - awesome photographs! I'm still overwhelmed by seeing one of my pictures in the selection. I guess it's not easy to choose 14 photographs out of more than 10,000. Good luck to all photographers for the upcoming assignments, and thank you so much to Alexa and the NG people.

    ken dyball
    ken dyball

    Congrats to all, & what a honor for one of my images to be selected by Alexa & her Fab NG team,

    Thank you :) :)


    Himal Reece
    Himal Reece

    Thank you and congrats to all. I feel extremely honoured to have my photo featured for this story. There were many great photos contributed to this assignment. As a photographer I am often inspired by other photographers and often wonder "how did they shoot that?" I am here to learn and share as well. I have added a "behind the scenes" photo showing how my shot was lit: http://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/photos/1680608/ 

    Veronika K-Ko
    Veronika K-Ko

    Congrats to all talented photographers,being chosen for Catch the Light! Great shots! Applause for Alexa Keefe and for all editors for the great selection! Keep the great work,all of you!

    Santiago Belaunzaran
    Santiago Belaunzaran

    Great story, really good photographs that come alive thanks to the light. Thanks to "your shot" team for another wonderful story. 

    Malcolm Fornasari
    Malcolm Fornasari

    Congratulations to all the photographers on these amazing images and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the story. Fabulous and very inspiring work by all.

    Scott Tully
    Scott Tully

    Wow Congratulations everyone on this amazing story!  So much wonderful work displayed from all the great photographers chosen.  I really enjoyed reading this and found Alexa's thoughts about the images and the moments they captured so very inspiring !  Ideas were sparked in my imagination from this brilliant collaboration!

    SamanthaLyn Samuelson
    SamanthaLyn Samuelson

    Many, many congratulations to all the photographers Marin, Spenser, Stefano, Samrat, Chantal, Carol, Karin, Diana, Santiago, Natalia, Himal, Freddy, Alexis, and Ken...your images are awesomely, wonderful and inspiring with the story.  Love the way Alexa Keefe organized images and words.  Thank you Alexa!  I am inspired by your work, Alexa, as the Photography Producer!  What a wonderful talent to produce this story with such inspiring text and images.  Thank you NG for the opportunity to be a part.

    Sujith Nair
    Sujith Nair

    Congrats to all the winners.The assignments are really very catchy.

    Special mention to Samrat Goswami and Freddy.My Favorites in this selections. :) 

    carol worrell
    carol worrell

    What an honor and blessing to be a part of such a caring and supportive community.

    Leonardo V.
    Leonardo V.

    I have to tell you. This was a very wise decision of the National Geographic centralize all their attention on stories that need to be told worldwide. This magnifies the photographic work and allows its meaning to go beyond the image that can be seen. I'm really pleased to see such dedication result in this wonderful work. As always, dedication from the technical staff, from the editors, curators who deliver all their sensitivity upon the choices and especially dedication from the participating photographers, where many of those who are part of the today's selection are ordinary people just like us, seeking, among thousands, the chance to gain recognition and that for a magical and precious moment finally managed to become a National Geographic Magazine Contributing Photographer. I say by myself that the encouragement you are giving these people is the culmination of the story. Everything revolves around recognition. I am very happy for them today. Congratulations. Another lovely story! ;) #LetsExplore!

    Manfred Weitz
    Manfred Weitz

    So enormously many photos have been submitted to the assignment, that I recogn that the selection was really a bit of very hard work: congratulations for the wonderful selection and the fabulous story.

    Pat Yeaman
    Pat Yeaman

    Wonderful selections, excellent story, Congratulations to all!!!!!!!!!

    Michelle Barnhart
    Michelle Barnhart

    @carol worrell Congratulations Carol, on once again being featured.  All these photographs are so beautiful and express the theme perfectly!

    Abdulrahman Alhinai
    Abdulrahman Alhinai

    @Leonardo V. Very well expressed Leonardo. I am sure many of us share with you such a sincere expression. I wish I can right as good as you to express my feelings, but no need, you've said it all. Thanks my friend.

    Leonardo V.
    Leonardo V.

    Sorry to much text, guys, but reading it gave me an urge to write too. I get excited very easily with all that is done to perfection. I've read it about 3 times! Just beautiful!

    Members Published In the Story