“Glancing light” is my preferred term for the low, slanting light that the sun affords in early morning and late afternoon, when it is low in the sky. It is at these times that some of the most interesting and memorable photos can be made of the natural world. Bright highlights in the morning, long tonal transitions in the late afternoon — either can transform our view of a flower, such as these newly emergent snowdrops. I had been watching them for several days, and noticed one evening how they close up with the approaching gloom of night.

Early the next morning, looking out, I saw a dramatically altered scene. The snowdrops had just re-opened from their night’s sleep, and were aglow with the brilliant light streaming low across the pond. I grabbed my camera and rushed out. The top photo is the result.

The bottom photo I took late the next day, hoping for another dramatic outcome, but I was a bit disappointed. The sky was overcast and the light flat, yielding a photo that I judged interesting, but hardly distinctive. Nevertheless, the contrast with the earlier photo is instructive.

In another post, I’ll discuss the magical, luminous possibilities of late afternoon light.

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