Digital Photography Lighting
Arguably, photography lighting
is one of the most important aspects of digital photography tips and tutorials, and you should make it your business to learn about it as soon as possible.
As you know from our
Digital Photography Basics
page, the word photography comes from the Greek 'Photos-Graphos', to paint with light.
No light, no picture. In truth, with digital photography lighting there are internal factors and external factors which have an effect.
Photography Lighting - Internal Factors
The job of a camera is to control the amount of light that is received by the digital sensor (in the old days, received by the film).
Almost everything in a DSLR is geared towards this one function, so much so that failing to correctly learn about how to use the aperture, shutter speed and ISO in relation to lighting is a serious gap in your knowledge base, and leaves us as simply a 'happy-snapper' with an automatic camera...
...all be it, a very fancy looking automatic camera.
To learn more about the internal factors click below and read 'The Three Foundations of Digital Photography Basics'.
A Cameras Internal Lighting Controls Explained
Digital Photography Lighting Principles - External Factors
Texture and Detail - Using Soft Light or Hard Light
The narrower a light source, the more stark or the subject will be when you take a photograph. This is called 'hard light'.
Imagine light as a concentrated beam, the narrower the beam, the more photons contained, and therefore the stronger (harder) the light is, enabling you to see more detail contained in the person or subject.
So, if for example you are taking a portrait of a woman, and your emphasise for that picture is female beauty, you possibly don't want the light source too narrow, unless it's considerably diffused (soft light), otherwise any blemishes on her skin will become apparent in the exposure.
Some kinds of photography equipment are specifically designed to diffuse light, such as a 'softbox', a light within a black box-like object with a diffussed screen over it.
Tip: If you are shooting for texture or detail (i.e. hair), you should also consider positioning your light source to the side of the subject as this will show a greater contrast and detail. Put the light source front on, and the opposite is the case.
Volume and Mood - Using Shadows to Good Effect
Sometimes what you don't see is just as important as what you do see. Shadows form part of the overall 'language' of an image and the way the human mind peceives it. Even a non-photographer knows a 'moody' shot will more often than not contain deep shadows.
In this case the term 'volume' simply means how three dimentional a subject looks in a given space, opposite to it looking as if it's a flat image on a flat background. One of the most important factors that contributes to 'volume' in photography lighting is in a phtographs use of shadows.
Positioning a light above, below or to the side of a subject will create a sense of volume (see picture below) but Be careful of how deep the shadows are if you are doing portraiture, as unless your subject is smiling in can make them look a bit scary.
Tip: Experiment with different photography light angles to find what really works with a particular subject. Not every subject, human or otherwise, will look the same under the same lighting conditions.
Using the Sun in Digital Landscape Photography
Possible Shadow Uses in Photography Lighting
Contrast: In a non-human subject for example, volume makes the subject feel more real to the viewer, this in turn lets the viewer feel more connected to it. An almost 'I could reach out and touch it', kind of feeling. Mystery: Think of old noir films or thrillers, and you'll know what I mean. Where shadows are concerned, what could be more mysterious than something you can't see.Fear: Using shadows can either create fear in the viewer, where other visual cues are present, or show fear in the subject.Depth of Emotion: A portrait with a high amount of volume, almost always suggests an unseen depth of emotion in the subject.Passage of Time: Where some subjects are concerened, a longer and deeper shadow can suggest a passage of time that may otherwise not be present.
As in many creative fields, experimentation is key. Not only will this result in more and more interesting results, but it will also deepen your knowledge and appreciation for photography lighting and its myriad of uses.
Find out more about Photography lighting or other tutorials by clicking the links below:
Go here to find out about how to use your flash in Flash Digital Photography
Use Photography Lighting techniques in our Abstract Photography Tutorial and click here....
How to use Photo Editing for under-exposure correction...
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