Photography Lighting

Photography Lighting

Lighting is referred to as the photographer's paintbrush. Without any type of light your photographs would turn out too dark and ultimately underexposed. With too much light, your pictures would turn out overexposed. As a photographer light is equivalent to the color palette of a painter. You need to understand your lighting conditions well in order to take great shots based on the current lighting situation that day.

Lighting, like other elements of composition help you place emphasis on subjects which are of more interests, while at the same time dimming light on objects which hold little important to the overall photograph. Light and shadows can also create mood, draw your attention to a specific area, can modify a shape or can bring out texture in an object.

Shadows caused by lighting are also another key point of photography. They help create the illusion of 3 dimensions in a photograph. Without shadows your photograph would record without form, curvature and would appear lifeless and dull.

Lighting is referred to as the photographer's paintbrush. Without any type of light your photographs would turn out too dark and ultimately underexposed. With too much light, your pictures would turn out overexposed. As a photographer light is equivalent to the color palette of a painter. You need to understand your lighting conditions well in order to take great shots based on the current lighting situation that day.

Lighting, like other elements of composition help you place emphasis on subjects which are of more interests, while at the same time dimming light on objects which hold little important to the overall photograph. Light and shadows can also create mood, draw your attention to a specific area, can modify a shape or can bring out texture in an object.

Shadows caused by lighting are also another key point of photography. They help create the illusion of 3 dimensions in a photograph. Without shadows your photograph would record without form, curvature and would appear lifeless and dull.

The color of daylight

As morning passes through to night, the color of daylight changes. Sometimes our skies are filled with bright white light, other times there seems to be a predominance of purples or oranges.

The color of daylight has a profound effect on the atmosphere of a photograph. Being conscious of you color of light around you will allow you to manipulate the mood set by each of your photographs.

Changes to the color of light are often more dramatic at the beginning and end of each day. So have your camera ready and be prepared to capture the beautiful colors of light that exist on our earth.

Backlighting

Backlighting is lighting which is exactly how it sounds. It’s lighting from the back of the subject. Backlighting can in some cases be a photographer's friend and in other cases it can be a photographers worst enemy. Backlighting usually causes the subject in the foreground to be underexposed, possibly even silhouetted, as the camera adjusts itself to be able to expose the bright background light properly.

Side Lighting

Side lighting can also add a dramatic look to your photographs. With a side lit photograph one side of your subject's body will be illuminated while the other side may be in total darkness. Obviously there are varying degrees as to which you can exaggerate the effects caused by side lighting. You can alter the intensity of the shading by ensuring the dark side has very little lighting and the bright side has a lot of lighting. You can also alter the dramatization of the effect by positioning the light at different angles.

Next are two examples of shadows caused by effective side lighting.

side lighting

Notice how in this example, the young boy seems to be staring out a small window. The light coming in from the window is enough to cast a substantial amount of light on his face, while the rest of the room remains dark.

You can also use side lighting in less extreme ways.

Notice how in this picture, the pillars are allowing light to shine through into the monks walking area. In nature side lighting can sometimes be a photographers dream and other times side lighting can be a photographers nightmare. It all depends on what the photographer is tying to capture.

Also depending on the intensity of the light coming through, sometimes the shadows cast will be do dark, almost creating objects in and of themselves. Other times the lighting may not be strong enough which may give a washed out look to the photograph.

However, in the case above notice how side lighting is creating substantially dark shadows in this hallway. Obviously this picture would look very different if the light was still overhead (there would be no shadows cast by the pillars in this case) and the monks would be located in a darker hallway with less light making it's way in.
Light can completely transform your photographs which is why you need to have an acute awareness of both artificial and natural lighting conditions. It's not that one lighting style is better than the others (although many photographers have their preferences), it's just that the camera settings will need to change depending on the lighting situation, your subject position may need to change, you may need to bounce light, you may need to cancel your shot.

Some Lighting Essentials videos:

Other Resources:

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