Tips for Lighting

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The warm glow of the setting sun, the glare of high noon, the luminance on a cloudy day. You can turn ordinary pictures into exceptional ones by conveying the atmosphere, mood, and drama of the light.

Find the best lighting: Study the light on your subject and reposition yourself or your subject until you find the most flattering light.

Create a warm glow: Use the golden light and long shadows of early and late day to enhance pictures of landscapes, cityscapes, and people.

Avoid harsh shadows: Avoid harsh facial shadows by using the soft lighting of a cloudy day or a shady area. On sunny days, if your camera has several flash modes, select Fill-Flash. This will fire the flash even in bright sunlight. This "fills" the shadows on nearby subjects, creating more flattering portraits in direct sunlight. Check your camera's manual.

Turn off your flash: For more effective lighting when you're outside in dim light and your subject isn't within flash range (more than about 10 feet away), turn off your flash and capture the scene in the existing light. Hold your camera extra steady or use a tripod, and be sure to use a high-speed film if you have a film camera.

Use night flash: Night flash combines a slow shutter speed to capture the background scene with flash that illuminates a nearby subject. It's especially good for taking a picture of a person with the sunset or city lights in the background.

THE DIRECTION (POSITION) OF LIGHT

When it comes to the direction of light, there are 360 degrees of possibilities. When the light isn't working for you, change it by moving your position, your subject's position, or the light itself, if possible.

HIGH FRONT LIGHT (SUNLIGHT)

We are trained early on that high front light is the best type of light, and often it is.

Pros:

• Most of the scene is well lit.

• Bright sunny days bring out the colors of a scene.

Cons:

• Sunlight may cause your subjects to squint.

• Very high sunlight (seen at noon) will create deep shadows under eyes and chins,

unless you use fill flash.

FRONT LIGHT

Front lighting illuminates the portion of the subject facing the photographer. Your camera's flash is the most common type of front lighting.

Pros:

• Provides the most information to the camera by lighting the entire scene.

• Easiest type of light to deal with photographically because there are fewer shadows to

confuse the camera's light meter.

Cons:

• Can be a bit boring—pictures lack volume and depth.

• Textures and details are minimized. Scenes appear flat with few shadows.

• Flash pictures may result in very bright subject areas and very dark backgrounds, if

the background is beyond flash range.

SIDE LIGHT

Side lighting is perfect when you want to emphasize texture, dimension, shapes, or patterns. Side lighting sculpts a subject, revealing contours and textures. Use side lighting to exaggerate dimension and depth. At a 45-degree angle to the side, it's one of the most flattering types of portrait lighting.

Pros:

• Can separate the subject from the background.

• Conveys depth, as in a landscape at sunset.

• Conveys texture, as in a weathered tree, fence, or plowed field.

Cons:

• May be too severe for some subjects, creating some areas that are too bright, and

some that are too dark. (See Fill flash to compensate.)

BACK LIGHT

Light that comes from behind your subject is by far the trickiest to use, but the dramatic results may be worth the effort.

Pros:

• Simplifies a complicated scene by emphasizing the subject, as in a silhouette.

• Provides a flattering halo of light in portraits.

• Adds strong shadows in landscapes.

Cons:

• Lack of detail in a dark subject.

• Causes lens flare resulting in low contrast and strange light spots across the picture.

• Using exposure compensation to overcome backlighting results in too-bright

background.

NOTE: In backlit situations, prevent lens flare by shielding your camera with a hat, hand, or book—enough to shade your camera lens but not obscure your subject.

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August 20, 2008

Sumrit

very good

August 18, 2008

Dmccale

Great info
mccale

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Photo credits: Ijansempoi, Martin Maun.