Lighting can drastically affect your pictures and photos. Read on for some easy photography lighting tips.
Lighting is one of the most important aspects of photography. The lighting you use will determine the entire mood of your end photograph, whether it is playful, serious, dramatic or somewhere in between. This is the aspect of photography that most allows for creative freedom on the part of the photographer. With the way you use light, you have the ability to make your photographs a true reflection of your personality.
There are no right or wrong ways to use light, only certain given facts about various situations. For example, taking a direct picture of metal or glass is going to cause the resulting picture to have a reflection of the flash, or flare as it is called. To avoid this flare, it is suggested you aim your flash at a forty-five degree angle to the surface of metal or glass. However, you might feel the flare will add something to your picture. Allowing the flare to exist is not wrong, it is your choice in this particular situation. That, in essence, is the point of learning certain rules on light, to give you the freedom of choice in your final outcome.
The basic rule is pictures taken in diffuse light will be softer and have fewer shadows. Harsh, direct light increases the number and depth of shadows and also adds drama to a photo. The first thing you must consider is which type of light is best for the look you are trying to create. Portraits are most often taken with soft light. Bouncing whatever light you use off a backdrop or ceiling will soften it before the light reaches your subject.
Softer lighting adds a dreamy quality to your photograph. Soft, natural light such as found in the early morning or early evening hours is ideal. We can not always choose these ideal times for our sessions, however, and must make do with what we have available. Indoors, you can use candles as a light source or drape a sheer scarf over your flash to produce this softer look. Outdoors, try waiting for an overcast day, if possible or place your subject in the shade and use fill flash.
There are times when you want to present a dramatic statement with your photograph. Direct, bright light will produce many deep shadows on your subject that, if worked with, can create a very dramatic impression. In landscapes, deep shadows can create a sense of danger in cliffs and rocky areas. A chasm filled with the black of shadow produces an image of danger and mystery. Even a portrait can be done with harsh light. Work with the angle of the light, taking several poses. A face partially obscured in shadow can appear mysterious.
Another situation that many people avoid is shooting into the sun. If detail is what you are seeking, keeping the sun at your back is a good rule to follow. Shooting into the sun will render anything other than the background as silhouette. This can work in your favor if the landscape is your main focus. In regards to high impact, a well placed silhouette can speak volumes in a photograph. Experiment with this one for a bit and see what you can come up with.
I must make one last note in regards to light. The human eye is accustomed to light coming from above a subject. Any time you want the light to go unnoticed, have it coming from above your subject. Using side or back light will be fine, as long as the main source is above. On the other hand, you can use this knowledge to get people to take a second look at your photograph. Anything out of our usual sense of normal causes a reaction to check again. Using a light source coming from anywhere other than above will create this reaction. Try it and see how people notice.
Light is one of the most versatile and fun aspects of photography. Play with it. Experiment and see what you can come up with. Light can be a photographer’s best friend so learn all you can about it, then go out and break all the rules and see what you create. That next award winning photograph could very well be yours.
Written by Joyce Anthony
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