Window Light and the Minolta Hi-Matic 7s

Window light fascinates me. Maybe because so many paintings feature scenes with windows as a light source. Since the light typically enters the scene from the side, it throws shadows that increase the depth and texture of the scene.

I’ve spent the last four years studying the lighting patterns at various windows around the house. Unfortunately, though we have windows facing south, east, and west they are usually blocked by houses or trees, or are situated in a way that makes their use for still-life images problematic. For example the breakfast room is full of light (south-facing) all winter, but the room is not much more than an alcove. Shooting requires moving everything around. Dining room windows are blocked by a house, as are the studio windows, although reflected light in the afternoon is pretty strong. Bedroom windows are feasible, but that would require moving a lot of gear upstairs. In other words, a proper still-life image (or drawing) requires planning and good weather.

This scene uses light from a west-facing window blocked by the house next door, allowing only a sliver of direct light during a few weeks of the year. However, reflected light in early afternoon makes the walls glow, creating appealing shadow gradations. It seemed like the perfect scene to test the meter on the new-to-me Minolta 7s rangefinder. I wanted to record as much shadow variation as possible without blowing out the highlights. The Minolta 7s is a rangefinder, so aiming the meter sensor through the viewfinder is impossible. Being careful not to capture the window sill just beyond the viewfinder frame and let in too much light, I aimed at the hanging picture and took the shot. The 7s meter read the scene perfectly!

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