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The Light Seeker

So what goes into making a shot like this? Part instinct, part having an idea at the back of my mind and part reacting to what happens in front of me if the elements are being kind and I am in the right place at the right time.

What caught my attention was the burst of light coming through the clouds and I pressed the shutter on instinct because the afternoon had been pretty cloudy and moments like this were always going to be quick. So this becomes an encounter with light, and the beauty and briefness of it seems to grace the land with an almost spiritual presence.

I read a lot about light, I am essentially always trying to capture the light.

How best to capture the light? I read about the technical details of how to achieve the best out of it and the different ways of composing and expressing the mood you want to convey in your photographs. I read about operating on instinct and throwing the rule book out.

As my work comprises of both photography and poetry I have my favourite go-to books for inspiration. The absolute must for me for poetry since I was a young teenager was Ted Hughes. There is something so visceral about his poetry. He digs deep into your feelings and does not spare you. It is also so beautifully descriptive but economic at the same time. He is emotional and lays his thoughts bare for you to find, uncompromising. His deep love and connection to nature in all its forms of life and death are explored, equally raw at times but also in beautiful tender ways. I would not want to be without his works by my side.

I live out of my books and I do not feel as though my day is complete if I haven't opened at least one of them in my collection during that twenty-four hours!

New acquisitions and old friends..

The book 'On The Nature Of Poetry' by Kenneth Verity is a recent purchase and I am looking forward to plundering its depths. It is an exploration on the art of poetry from 4,000 years ago to what inspires us today, and I suspect it is going to be one of those books you keep returning to, finding snippets that engage your mind.

Back to the subject of light, and I found the book 'Read This If You Want To Take Great Photographs Of Places' by Henry Carroll, so good. Part of a series, he showcases photographers and their work to illustrate not just how to take photographs, but how to let your imagination and what inspires you to take the sort of images that are different, unusual and most of all, are about your style of photography.

One of these photographers, Rinko Kawauchi, does just this, over-exposing her work to accentuate the otherworldly or spiritual feeling she has obviously felt at certain places. Old school photography in the past would not have approved of this use of over-exposure, burnt out areas not being the done thing with visual information lost. But Rinko's work has put that to one side and her work is more about feeling the light and what it is saying and responding instinctively. At last, I had found a photographer who seeks to find the same things in her work as I do.

Throw out the rule book, photography is becoming a creative art form, with freestyle creative expression.

Modern photography is about pushing boundaries. The old rules do not apply anymore, as new photographers with the range of cameras on offer explore possibilities to find their own artistic style.

I may have thrown out the rule book on photography, but in other respects I have returned to what inspires me the most. Really, I don't think it ever went away. My interests in spirituality in all its forms has engaged me all my life. My restless seeking finds a home in my photography and poetry, and combining the two has given me a voice.

My own experiences has led me on a journey of exploration, and for me I know I will never cease that search, my certainties about some things just leading to further questions as to why I am here.

Books about The Grail and Christian Mystics along with equal thought provoking topics of inquiry and consideration are to hand when I am writing poetry or thinking about where to go next with my camera. What would give me the atmosphere I am after to go with that concept I am thinking about?All these things run through my mind.

However, all the thinking and planning in the world does not cater for the unexpected, and it is these shots that are the ones that can truly inspire.

Locations of photographs and Books featured in this Blog are listed below, and not forgetting the music I was listening to when I was researching the beauty of light.


Locations: Above, top of page - View towards Firle Beacon from Wilmington, East Sussex, UK.

Above, bottom of page - View towards Firle Beacon from Litlington, East Sussex, UK.

Books Featured:

Ted Hughes. Collected Poems.

Faber and Faber Limited 2003

SBN 0-571-21719-2

On The Nature Of Poetry.

Kenneth Verity.

Shepheard-Walwyn Publishers Limited 2007.

ISBN -13: 978-0-85683-246-8

Read This If You Want To Take Great Photographs Of Places.

Henry Carroll.

Laurence King Publishing Limited 2017.

ISBN 978-1-78067-905-1

The Mystic Grail.

John Matthews.

Thorsons 1997.

ISBN 0-722535-09-0

Christian Mystics. 365 Readings and Meditations.

Matthew Fox.

New World Library 2011.

ISBN 978-1-57731-952-8

Music CD's: Jose Carreras. Passion. Erato. 1996.

John Williams. Joaquin Rodrigo. Sony Music Classics. From 1967 and 1974.

This compilation - 2010


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John Hewitt
John Hewitt
Aug 26, 2022

Love the light coming through your photograph Shelley. Glad to see you love Ted Hughes as well. A fine nature poet.

Shell's Blog
Shell's Blog
Aug 26, 2022
Replying to

Dear John, Thank you my friend, for your support. This was a lovely surprise today. I have always loved Ted Hughes, even back when I was a young teenager. [Maybe the writing was on the wall already], it was his practical, visceral, yet also visual verse that really caught my imagination.


Aug 10, 2022

This has been a pleasure to read and fascinating as to what your inspirations are.

Thank you very much!



Feb 02, 2022

How familiar to see the light over Firle Beacon. A lovely shot from Litlington. The poetry of Seamus Heaney is evocative of nature too. Not as spiritual, perhaps more earthy but I enjoy his use of language.

Shell's Blog
Shell's Blog
Feb 03, 2022
Replying to

I certainly would agree with you there about Seamus Heaney. Wonderful writing, primal almost. Glad the Firle Beacon shot brought back memories!


Nov 07, 2021

Had this been a book with more pages to turn, to read more poetry, and more images I would eagerly rush to turn them over. Thank you. I have enjoyed this very much.

Tree Ange

Shell's Blog
Shell's Blog
Nov 07, 2021
Replying to

Thank you for such a lovely compliment, and for becoming a member. As new blogs come up you will be among the first to know!

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