Fundamental Lighting Tips (Square Perfect EBAY Store )
While many variables affect the outcome of an image, when we’re talking about lighting, the quality of light and the intensity of that light are the two basics that should always be taken into consideration.
The Importance of the Quality of Light
Most important, even before deciding what light sources you will be using, is a vision or purpose for your subject. This will help to determine a number of things, of course, like setting, position, etc., but will also help you to “see” the shadows that you want to produce.
If you are interested in producing a more “standard” portrait, you’ll want to surround the person in question with a soft, gentle light, and since that’s the case, you’ll be using a larger light source: an umbrella or softboxes or bounce light from reflectors. Large light sources like these produce a diffuse light that softens shadows.
If you want to introduce a bit of starkness, grittiness or texture to your portrait (Sam Spade, shee…?), then go with a smaller source that will provide you with sharp, angular shadows. Place a small light (tungsten or a flash) with a reflector at a distance from your subject and play with that distance to affect mood and shadow.
Using All of Your Light Resources
Whether you’re setting up in a studio or capturing images in the spur of the moment, remember that light sources, whether they be natural or installed, are not the only factors that can influence light on film. Adjusting aperture and shutter speed can help you to work with the light you have and greatly affect your photos.
The Main Light
The main light is very plainly just that: the main source of light in any situation. This can be the sun, a bright wall, the sun bouncing off a water source, a light under an umbrella, etc. This is the light that produces the form and shadow that you will either decide to accept or alter. You can do this by moving the light source (if possible) or the subject.
Reflected light or light that has bounced off of an object (clouds, water, wall, reflector) is fill light. Fill light softens shadows or crisps and darkens them by its absence. Fill light usually does not create any shadows of its own (or very few). You can affect or minimize potential fill shadows by positioning the fill light source near the camera, so that the light produced will wrap around the subject and any shadow will fall behind it. You can also use fill light to produce wanted shadow. For instance, if you are shooting a portrait, you can produce and control a shadow under the chin by placing your fill light above the eye level of the subject.
Understanding Light Ratios
The light ratio is, very simply, the ratio of main light to fill light. If your main light is twice as bright as your fill light, the light ratio is 2:1. As you look at the work of other photographers, begin to notice the ratio of light from one side of the subject to the other. For black and white dramatic photos, you might notice that the light ratio is higher, and for more standard color photography, that the ratio approaches 2:1 or 3:1.
Obviously you can learn the most about different types of light and light ratios by experimentation; move your light sources, adjust the distance between the lights and your subjects, see how strobes and flashes set to the side can affect your fill light, etc. Remember to have fun! The more you play with light, the more effective, experienced and confident you’ll become.
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