The simplistic meaning of the word derived from its Greek roots is something many photographers take some time to quite understand. (including me) While there is more to a photograph then just highlights and shadows and often the subjects we photograph are so captivating that it seems unimportant to fuss about this, yet the proper light (or lighting) can make a good photograph even better.
Now before you take up arms and attack me with strobes, flashes and anything else that you use for your lighting up the frame, as I have said before there are no rules and in many cases one has to work hard to get even lighting for certain products etc. but we are not talking about that right now.
It has been my experience (and I am hoping you will agree,) that when light come from the right direction it can draw some extraordinary work on the canvas of your sensor (or negative for those of us who still shoot film at times). Often though we don’t find the time that this task demands because of our busy schedules, even if all we do is take photographs (and want to do it well).
The important lesson to remember here is the simplest, all it takes is to remember what photography means and then see how one can do justice to its simplest meaning. Very often the time of the day when we walk past a certain building or monument may not be best with regard to shadows etc. but instead of waiting a half hour or having a cup of tea and then returning in an hour we just go ahead and take the photograph (nothing wrong with that,) and never return to see what would have happened if the lighting had changed.
What would light draw an hour or two hours later?
Seeing what is there is one thing, but looking for what can be there is something quite different and the results will speak for themselves.