Click Play - Video by Emily Wurm


“In the beginning, God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Gen.1:3).  Without light nothing would visibly exist.  If anything did exist we certainly couldn’t comprehend it with our eyes.  First things first, “Let there be light;” then all other things were created.  This worked then and it continues to work.  All photography, art, and architecture require light falling on its physical matter.  Let’s explore the properties of light, and experiment with the dramatic potential of light.  Adventurous for sure! 

Light has color.  An evening sunset colors everything with warm hues and subtle color transitions.  An ominous green hue tinted my world one day.  I was nine years old, yet I’ll always remember that day.  A tornado had been spotted and it was heading our way; it was early afternoon, but the sky was a muddy green.  It was apocalyptic.  The atmosphere blocked certain light rays allowing others to filter through.  Weather conditions color our everyday world as much as rose-colored glasses pink-ify one’s outlook.   Harsh light carves deep shadows, while filtered and diffused light softens almost any subject.   

Light is power in the world of illustration.  We must master the use of light in graphics to communicate well.

The direct natural light that floods this portrait of twin girls (Sarah and Hannah) yields crystal clear portraits with well-defined details.  Upon close inspection of the original photos, you can even see, and practically feel the baby peach fuzz on their faces.   

The light coming through the windows of this classroom washed away a lot of details, while hyping the clothing colors.  They pop!  Shooting into a light source like this can produce a clean and heavenly feel.  In this particular setting, there was plenty of light bouncing around the room to counteract the flood of light from the windows.  Without multiple light sources the people and furniture would have been silhouetted.  Fill-flash or reflective light helps eliminate this problem.



The warm hues of dusk color Dustin’s dark skin with the warmest tones of glowing reds.  The colored rays paint him in translucent hues.  The otherwise green post behind him is transformed into a glowing yellow.  Colored light changes everything.  As our evening photo-shoot continued, the ambient light transitioned to shades of purple, as you see in the third photo of Dustin. 

Here we have the classic backlit experience.  The warm sunlight engulfs the mother and her three children.  The diminished focus and sunlit hair say, “We are having a heavenly day in the garden of wildflowers discovering the wonders of God’s sweet earth.”  Can you feel it?

The light obliterates Braden’s back.  This photo entertains us by engaging our minds to fill in the blank.  A person’s experience and knowledge reconstruct what the light has eliminated.  How do we know Braden doesn’t have a baby polar bear on his back?

Before we explore this any further, let’s look at a few scriptures on this topic of light. Then we’ll challenge ourselves to use light as we create awesome photos.

“The eye is the lamp of the body.  If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light” (Mt. 6:22).  Is this verse saying that if we have our eyes on that which is good that our entire being will be filled with His Light?  Yes!  Let Jesus’ words perk our senses, quicken our understanding and catapult us into a revolutionary way of seeing the Light of our world. 

Oh yes, God opens the eyes of the blind.  He did this for the Apostle Paul on the road to Emmaus.  Of course He first blinded Paul and later restored His sight, and revolutionized this religious man’s understanding of his life mission.  As a child, Paul was taught to see good and evil from God’s law.  However, when the scales fell from his eyes, he acquired new spiritual eyes.  His eyeballs were born again.  The appearance of the Old Testament Law faded as a shadowy pattern, and the New Testament Light exploded with life and empowerment (Rom. 8:2).  Paul was set free from the laws of sin and death.  We want this!

Let’s pray: Oh God, open our eyes and show us new truths that transform our perceptions, our thinking and our daily lives.  According to Your will, give us your Light, we pray.  Amen!

Matthew 6:23 and 24 continue with a punch, “But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!  No one can serve two masters…”  Whatever catches your eye may snag your soul.  What catches your eye?  In answering this question you’ll come face-to-face and eye-to-eye with the Living Word, Jesus.  What captured Jesus’ eye and heart as young child, as a teen, as an adult?  He was God while He was also terribly human, so you can count on the fact that He faced every possible visual temptation that you and I face (Heb. 4:15).  He gets us!

Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up and said, “Woe is me…” (Is. 6).  What did Samson ogle that drew his heart to a pathway of destruction?  Remember Lot’s wife, with one backward glance at what she was leaving behind, she became a pillar of salt.  Then there’s our hero David.  Didn’t his episode with Bathsheba begin with a captivating glimpse?  He, his family, his nation, and his throne all suffered because of his glimpsing.  Ouch!


Our eyes open the doors and windows of our hearts and imaginations.  What we see flips switches in our brains.  We are inspired, horrified, excited, depressed and compelled by what we see.  We truly feed our spirits, souls and bodies through our eyes.  The sustenance of sight feeds us.  Vision feeds our vision for life.  It forges us into what we’ll ultimately become.  “Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.  Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm.  Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil” (Pr. 4:25-27).  Every loving caution in these verses hinges on our focus.  “Be careful little eyes!”   

No wonder the Psalmist writes: “I will set before my eyes no vile thing…” (Ps. 101:3).  “Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word” (Ps 119:37).  These are powerful admonitions that bring New Testament grace to all who will honestly hear with open hearts.

Just because we have eyeballs, optic nerves and brains to convert light rays into meaningful data does not mean we comprehend anything of spiritual value.  Ezekiel 12:2 brings this out perfectly: “Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, which has eyes to see but does not see, and ears to hear but does not hear; for they are a rebellious house.”  Praise God for the words of Jesus.  He said, “Blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear” (Mt. 13:16).   Hopefully, this is true of our lives!

Obviously, God created us with eyes to comprehend light and life—Light and Life both in the person of Jesus Christ and through His creation.  He also gave us a free will.  Our appetites direct our eyes.  Conversely, our eyes inspire our appetites.  This is a simple truth that nurtures life, and yet can be life-threatening when we look at what we should not.  We have freewill-eyeballs.  We choose our gaze.  Luke 8:18 says, “Therefore take heed how you hear…”  This same caution applies to sight; therefore, take heed how you see!  


The central thought is that we naturally seek enlightenment.  This is a good thing if we have eyes for the Lord, and this is a bad thing if we have eyes for the forbidden fruit.  We walk in the light of what we love, whether it is good or bad.  There is an enlightenment of evil, the depths of Satan (Rev. 2:24).  Adam and Eve looked, touched, and ate.  They became enlightened with the knowledge of evil.  All they had previously known was the good brand of enlightenment.  Wow!  Can you imagine a world void of evil?

Now then, let’s turn our focus at this point to how natural light falling on our subject matter can greatly alter the overall look and thoughts we provoke with our photography.  The challenge below is a fun adventure.  Enjoy!


See and say more than meets the eye.  Experiment with light!  Have fun taking self-portraits, or portraits of collaborating friends, that are far more than snapshots.  Employ a variety of perspective angles, such as bird’s eye and worm’s eye views.  Above all, experiment with diametrically different lighting conditions.  Experiment with flash, flashlights, lamps at floor level and overhead lights, indoor and outdoor lighting, or dim and overlit conditions during early morning and late evening.  Light is everything in photography.  

Upload your photos to iPhoto; tweak them as much as you’d like in this program and save them.  Reopen the photos in Photoshop to further manipulate the images and create a superb drama of light.     

As you have a lot of fun with this challenge, ask yourself these questions:
1. How can I create drama by purposefully controlling light?
2. How does my visual message change as I change the lighting?
3. How can I deliberately color light?
4. What different colors will I pick up when I use florescent, candlelight, incandescent, sunrise or sunset light, halogen or Christmas lights?
5. How does the angle and direction of my light source affect my photo?

Can you feel the drama of the defining light?



What great insights do you find in the following Scriptures?  Has God made our faces to express His heart?  Do our faces display the conditions of our hearts?   
1Peter 3:3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 
Pr. 25:23 The north wind driveth away rain, so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue. 
Pr. 15:13  A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
Pr. 27:17  Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. 
Ecc. 7:3 Sorrow is better than laughter, for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. 
Jer. 1:8 Be not afraid of their faces, for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord.
Lam. 3:51 My eye affecteth my soul, Because of all the daughters of my city.
Is. 3:9 The appearance of their faces witnessed against them, And their sin, as Sodom, They declared, They have not hidden!


1.  Choose 9 of the springboard words below.  These words serve as inspiration for posing.  Use your face to express the springboard words of your choice.  You may add to this list of facial expressions to further personalize this photo challenge.

Jubilant, depressed, awestruck, sleepy, eager, glamorous, ticked-off, affectionate, studious, fake smile, hat-attitude, pensive, hurried, crushed, driven, windy, jumping, jumpy, frustrated, weepy, silly, sun-glassed cool, tough cool, nasty cool, pure cool, satisfied, languishing, dreamy, irritated, satisfied, bad boy, good boy, holy, honest, cheater, disturbed, grumpy, elated, overwhelmed, ripped off

2.  After picking 9 springboard words you intend to portray, intentionally govern the conditions under which you photograph yourself.  Create the most intriguing photos by carefully selecting, altering and controlling the following conditions: light, air currents (hint), props, costuming, makeup, background, view finder framing, tilting, perspective, zoom, and crop options.

3.  Photographing one’s self can be challenging. You can hold your camera at arm’s length, calculate your aim and shoot away.  You may also use a mirror, the auto-timer feature of your camera or a friend to help out.  Framing your photo in the viewfinder before depressing the shutter button is essential.  Move your camera a little to the right and a little to the left, and up and down to intentionally select the best possible composition. 

4.  Manipulate the 9 photos using iPhoto. Be sure to back your work.

5.   Select your 4 favorite portraits.  Further edit these images in Photoshop using the “Image” and “Filter” pull down menus.  Also, play with the “Healing Brush” and the “Stamp Tool.” You’ll enjoy removing unwanted facial hair, pimples and crooked teeth.  Don’t have too much fun with this; it can become hilariously distracting.
6.  If necessary resize your 4 best portraits for matting and framing in standard frame sizes (5x7, 8x10, 11x14). 

7.  Image File Specifications:
	 Resolution 	200
 RGB color format		 
 8.5x11 canvas size	 
White background 
 Create as many layers as needed to preserve your work in progress


Create a large, standard size canvas (16x20, 22x28, 24x30).  Using your Photoshop rulers is essential in laying out this project.  Create a boarder of about 2 inches around the canvas.  Create a grid of 4 rectangles across and 5 rectangles from top to bottom.  This produces 20 rectangles to hold your best 20 self-portraits.  What a great awesome poster of your many faces! 


- Light can be harsh, blinding, soft or diffused.  
- Light creates shadows. 
- Light reflects. 
- Strong light wraps around its subjects and obliterates its edges.
-	Light has color, which greatly influences photography.
-	Whatever catches the eyes can snag the soul.  This can be a good thing or a bad thing.
-	Our eyes are doors and windows of our hearts and imaginations. 
- Fresh spiritual light leads us toward the Lord as it did the Apostle Paul.  We walk away from our old nature and strict religion is replaced with a vibrant relationship.
- God opens our eyes and transforms our perceptions, our thinking and our daily lives. 
- If we have eyes and hearts to see evil, we become dark.  Not a good thing.  Remember David peeked at Bathsheba.  
- Our appetites direct our eyes, and our eyes direct our appetites.  Wow!
- Light is a powerful tool in photography.  Without light there is no image, no photo.
- 	God gives us the ability to use our facial expressions to communicate many emotions.


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