Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – It’s All About the Light

This week, Tina Schell challenges us to explore light and its effects on an image. She writes, “Sometimes we plan ahead and rise in the early morning hours to capture the sunrise, only to find it obscured by clouds. Other times we await the sunset only to find it less than spectacular. And sometimes, every now and then, we just get lucky and a boring scene becomes magical.” You can read her entire challenge post and check out her comparison photos here.

For this challenge-response, I am including several golden and blue hour images, those times when the light truly can make a photo “pop” with color. But, I also have a couple of other surprises in store that don’t fit the model of early morning or early evening light. I start, however, with one of my favorite morning images from Breezy Point Resort in northern Minnesota. Though the building blocked the direct sun, the background, on this early spring morning, is alive with a golden glow.


I promised a few surprises. Artificial light can add its own enhancement to an image. That illumination on the side of the Norwegian Pearl cruise ship is due to the color temperature of the ship’s lighting system bathing the NCL logo and superstructure with a warm glow.

Lounge chair-1

Inside one of the Norwegian Pearl’s lounges, dim lighting and my crop in post-processing made this image more impactful than the original, below.


No doubt the lights in the foreground of the original image fooled the light meter into underexposing the background, a happy accident.

Phoenix Skyline-1

High atop South Mountain in Phoenix, sunsets can be amazing, but this blue hour photo showing the city lights has its own special magic.


I have shared this image of Bryce Canyon many times. Getting there at sunrise after the first snowfall in October was a challenge in itself. It was a cold morning while awaiting the sun to rise high enough to start illuminating the valley from this viewpoint. At least we had plenty of company as there were plenty of early rising photographers there to capture their versions of the sunrise as well.

Outer Banks sand fences-1

Sunrise on the Atlantic Ocean is worth getting up early. We had some trouble finding the open beach in the pre-dawn light, but we got there in time to capture the sun as it filtered through some low clouds in the distance. The cloud filter created a soft light that gave the image a pastel look, much less harsh than it would have been on a cloudless morning.

Saguaro NP-8

Variations in cloud thickness can make for some interesting images even in midday light. This image captured in Saguaro National Park was captured while I was looking to the north. A large area of heavy rain was hitting those mountains in the background. The leading edge of the storm was headed in our direction. The desert directly in front of us was bathed in the indirect light of a much thinner layer of clouds.

Equinox Arrival-2

My final image, a photo from my cell phone, features the Celebrity Equinox on its way back into port from a cruise captured in 2019. The lights of the harbor added visibility and texture to the low-hanging clouds, and the Equinox provided its own lighting effects on its way back into the Port of Miami.

Thanks again to Tina for a great challenge opportunity. Please click on any of the images above to view and scroll through them in 2K HD at my Flickr album created for this post.

John Steiner


  1. A great and varied selection that illustrate the theme perfectly! My favourite has to be Bryce in the snow – worth getting up early for that shot for sure! I also really like your blue hour Phoenix image and the one of the Atlantic coast at sunrise – they share a delicate colour palette that is a great contrast to the usual sunrise/sunset photos we see.

  2. Wow, all excellent examples of how light affects our photography. I think cruise ships are an amazing opportunity to capture fun photos in different lighting situations.

  3. Lovely photos here. I like the two photos with spots of artificial light added into the golden hours. I’ve only tried that in the “deep blue” hour, when you get the opposite effect: the warmth of artificial light.

  4. Beautiful pictures, John. that first picture is breathtaking. All are great pictures, but wow! You should have that one hanging in an office or send it to a magazine.

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