Copyright Scott Bourne 2010 - All Rights Reserved
If you want to make great images you need great light. And great light is always available if you know what you are doing and you have access to some gear.
Here are seven lighting tips that may benefit photographers:
1. You can make great images with one light source. Just make sure the light source is big. The bigger the better. I try to find light sources that are roughly twice the size of my subject.
2. Remember that light has a depth of field too. This is one of the most overlooked pieces of the lighting puzzle. The closer you are to the subject, the faster the light falls off.
3. Umbrellas are typically the most available and the least expensive light modifiers. But they are also veritable “light grenades…” scattering light everywhere. It’s easier to control light with a softbox.
4. If you are working with reflectors, pay attention to where you place them. If you have a silver reflector, placing it too close to the subject will not be flattering. White reflectors are however designed to be placed about half the distance to the subject as the main light.
5. If you want natural catch lights in the eyes, aim for 11 o’clock or 1 o’clock.
6. If you use a hair light, make sure it doesn’t hit the shoulders.
7. Experiment with “hot” lights or constant lighting. It allows the use of wider apertures and faster shutter speeds than does strobe.
These are just some random starter tips. Go from here. Experiment. Move the light. Shape the light. Study the light and you’ll get great images.
This post sponsored by the Digital SLR Store
Use the Keep It Simple Approach to Studio Lighting
Image and Post by Rick Sammon – Follow Rick Sammon on Twitter
Studio lighting set-ups don’t get much simpler or easier than this – as illustrated in the picture on the left: a constant-light main light (right), a reflector (left) and a collapsible background. The hair light on the top left was turned off for the photos on the right.
This type of simple set-up can help you produce some beautiful portraits – anywhere . . . including in a hotel meeting room, which is where I took these pictures during a Westcott (http://www.fjwestcott.com/) lighting event.
The top photograph shows the effect of using the main light and the reflector. As you can see, the reflector bounced some of the light from the main light onto the opposite side of the model’s face. It’s an okay shot, one that shows the distinctive features of the model.
The bottom shot, however, is my favorite from the session. It shows the effect of using only the main light (the reflector was moved out of position). I like the way the deep shadow on the model’s face adds a sense of drama to the image. I also like the way the model is making direct eye contact with my lens.
Speaking of the KIS technique, I used my Canon G10 set on the Av mode to take all these shots. Now that’s simple shooting.
Let us know if you want more on-location lighting tips. We’re here to help.
Photo and Post by Rick Sammon
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Here is a quick tip from my forthcoming book (due out this fall and co-authored with NYC studio photographer Vered Koshlano), Studio Lighting Secrets.
Sure, you can spend thousands of dollars on studio light gear that will help you get great shots. But for about $30, you can pick up a cool lighting accessory at The Home Depot – Venetian blinds. This accessory can help you create creative lighting effects even when you are shooting with only one light.
Here’s the technique.
First, position the blinds (taped on a reflector/diffuser stand in our behind-the-scenes photo) between the light and the model. Adjust the opening of the slats to vary the lighting effect. Also vary the distance (three feet for our photo) between the light and the blinds.
A constant light source (as opposed to a strobe) is best for this technique – because you can see the shadows and highlights created by the blinds before you shoot.
The model shot on the left is a straight shot – no blinds were used. The other two model shots show the effect of varying the size of the openings in the blinds. The bottom picture is a behind-the-scenes shot.
With this setup, you really need to experiment to get the desired effects.
This post sponsored by the Digital SLR Store
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Photo by Scott Bourne
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My advice for beginning photography students is to always shoot with the sun at their backs. This usually assures good light on the subject. But once you’ve mastered the basics, it’s time to move on to something more challenging and creative. Enter backlit photos.
The picture above was made with my trusty Canon G9 – in it’s highest quality JPEG mode – (since I was shooting for the Web, no need to make a RAW image. This is one of the few times I won’t shoot RAW.)
The exposure was 1/1250th of a second at f6.3. The focal length was 16mm (about 70mm EFL) and the ISO was 200.
The background was busy. There was a strongly patterned brick wall surrounded by trees and a fence. But thanks to the magic of backlighting, the ugly background went away and photographed black. Sometimes limited dynamic range is your friend.
I put the camera at a level that matched the height of one of the many fountains in San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Park. I wanted a fast shutter speed so I shot at f/6.3 to force a faster shutter speed.
The fast shutter speed froze the water in place, and the beautiful backlight helped to isolate the water drops and the position of the water in a nice pattern.
So don’t be afraid of backlit subjects. It takes practice to know what to expect, but the results can be rewarding.