Portrait photographers like David Ziser and Clay Blackmore taught me very early in my career that great portraits are almost always short lit, and that made me happy. Knowing that a simple technique could give me a leg up in making great portraits was music to my ears. Unfortunately, I didn’t really understand what that meant for a long time. Once I realized exactly what short lighting is, I saw that almost every photograph of every subject, from landscapes to libraries, is likely to be more successful if it’s short lit.
What is short light?
What about landscapes?
What’s this got to do with landscapes and architecture? Well, we talk about the face of a building and the face of a mountain, don’t we? If you want a formula that is likely to make any landscape or architecture look more interesting, short light it. But how do you light a whole building or a mountain? Remember from above that if the subject doesn’t move and the light doesn’t move, then moving your camera gives the appearance of lighting the short side.