Sonoma State University and Santa Rosa Junior College herald in the graduation season here in the Redwood Empire.  By the time it’s all said and done, Press Democrat photographers will have covered a little over 30 graduations.  That’s a lot of photos and a lot of time for a small staff.

Adding to the logistics of scheduling, the light can be a real challenge to reel in.  Oh sure, sometimes you get some really beautiful light and that can add quite a dramatic effect to the photographs.

One of the most challenging places to photograph a commencement is Santa Rosa Junior College.  Granted, the grounds are beautiful and meticulously manicured.  It’s those majestic valley oaks that tower in to the bright blue sky that give photographers a fit with speckled, mottled light.

It’s not unusual to photograph a person deep in shadow and then have half a face three stops brighter.  It can drive a photographer crazy.  Once in awhile, the stratus comes in and the shadows soften a bit leaving faces in even contrast.

I’ve learned over a period of years to not fight the light during SRJC’s commencement.  The old saying “It is what it is” really applies here.  While not all the photos I shot this morning at the college are an earth shattering ode to my given profession, I let the light dictate how I would make pictures. I like to think that the mottled light can be used as a spotlight on the subject.  Corny for sure, but it works for me.

 

2013 during commencement exercises on the SRJC campus in Santa Rosa. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

Family cheer on their graduate during the Santa Rosa Junior College commencement, Saturday May 25, 2013 in Santa Rosa. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

Allison Hanbury wears the latest in eye wear during Santa Rosa Junior College's commencement, Saturday May 25, 2013 in Santa Rosa. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

Santa Rosa Junior College's commencement, Saturday May 25, 2013 in Santa Rosa. Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

The Santa Rosa Junior College commencement, Saturday May 25, 2013 in Santa Rosa. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

SRJC student Carol Williams sings with the Concert Choir, during the Santa Rosa Junior College commencement, Saturday May 25, 2013 in Santa Rosa. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

Family cheer on their graduate during the Santa Rosa Junior College commencement, Saturday May 25, 2013 in Santa Rosa. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

Graduate Mara McLeester takes a moment before singing the National Anthem prior to Santa Rosa Junior College's commencement, Saturday May 25, 2013 in Santa Rosa. Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

Morning light pours through stately valley oaks during Santa Rosa Junior College's commencement, Saturday May 25, 2013 in Santa Rosa. Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

Santa Rosa Junior College graduates cheer commencement speaker Celestino Fernandez, Saturday May 25, 2013 in Santa Rosa, a professor from the University of Arizona, and alumnus of SRJC during commencement exercises on the campus. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

The Santa Rosa Junior College commencement, Saturday May 25, 2013 in Santa Rosa. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

-Kent Porter