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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Warm Light, Cold Light


For David Stoecklein, any light will do. He takes what the scene gives him and makes the mood match the subject for inspiring photographs.

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Photographer David Stoecklein is well known as a master photographer of the American West, but if you ask him, he’ll tell you he’s just a hunter of light. And for this cowboy photographer, even though so many photographers speak in these terms, the metaphor makes sense. His mission is seeking out drama for his photographs—and that usually means working with both warm and cool light.

David Stoecklein - Warm Light, Cool Light
David Stoecklein is known for his portraits of the American West. Strong use of light and a keen understanding of the impact of color temperature give Stoecklein's images the dramatic feel of the Old West. "I have a picture blown up in my office," he says," and it’s called 'Ride ’Em Like You Stole 'Em' [opening spread]. It’s real blue, dark light, with just a bit of wispy last evening sunlight silhouetting the cowboy and the horses. Some people would look at that as cool light, but it has a lot of energy. I think you can have just as much energy in blue light as you can in the hot light."

"When you wake up in the morning and you’re going to shoot, you’re looking for light all day long," says Stoecklein. "I tell my clients, 'Hey, we’re out here searching for light.’ I work all day long looking for that special piece of light. That’s the challenge every day. Sometimes you never get it, and it’s hard to do anything cool without it."

The best way to find special light, of course, is to look at the beginning and end of the day. Shooting in the first cool rays of dawn and the last warm evening glow is a big step toward great photos, and Stoecklein is happy to share all he knows about the intricacies of shooting in warm light, cool light or any little light at all.

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