A simple definition of light is:
“The natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible.”
Quite literally, you would not be able to see if it weren’t for natural light from the sun, or artificial light from a lamp or candle. I have always been fascinated with light, but more specifically with how it transforms natural settings. My favourite example of this is looking up at the leaves of the tree canopies at Londolozi; the way light shines through each leaf, highlighting its veins, then onto the ground below, also warming my face as I drive or walk underneath the large trees. It can be mesmerising.
My favourite time of the day is sunset. The golden light exaggerates everything it touches, and this time of day makes for incredible portraits of people, animals and landscapes. Photographers have appropriately named this time of the day “Golden Hour”.
After rain has fallen across the landscape, the first rays of sunlight hit the drops that have collected on every leaf, branch and spider’s web, looking like strings of diamonds.
During the night time the light changes; spotlights come out and the light they cast is in beam form. It’s effect is profound but its scope limited. Concentrated light like this has a whole different feel to it, a more concentrated purpose.
A flash of a leopard’s white-tipped tail; the eyes of the scrub hare shining red; a bush baby and her young scurrying along a branch; crocodile eyes peering out from the water in the Sand River… after dark these are all brought into far more acute focus by the spotlight beam.
You get back from game-drive and arrive at your dinner venue and a whole new array of brilliance greets you; lit up by lanterns or a crackling fire in the boma, the evenings at the lodge take on a romantic feel.
And yet there is also beauty in the darkness. Once the lamps are extinguished and the spotlights are off, we marvel at the constellations above. The milky way (which many San cultures believe is the path their ancestors walk) draws its route across the heavens, humbling you as you look up. The sheer enormity of what you are seeing in the cosmos has to be felt, and pictures simply can’t do it justice. Out in the African bush, the bright lights of the city are a distant memory, and you will never see brighter stars than here.
Put light against light – you have nothing.
Put dark against dark – you have nothing.
It’s the contrast of light and dark that give the other one meaning.
– Bob Ross