Monday, May 13, 2013
Five Classic Lighting Recipes
Five tried-and-true lighting styles for effective portraits
As much as I like to experiment when it comes to lighting, there are times I need the sure thing. Wouldn't it be great to know five lighting techniques that always work and create a variety of looks? Techniques a beginner could master in a short time with minimal gear?
Lighting styles vary through the years, but over time a few techniques and principles stand out as timeless. These proven lighting techniques have produced some of the most iconic photographs in history. The next time a client calls with a big job—or you need to photograph the neighbor's kids—have these lighting recipes in your back pocket.
1 SOFT LIGHTING
Lighting all starts with one light, and sometimes that is all you need, but not all single lights are equal.
First, let's review a few characteristics of light. All light has direction, quality and color. Altering these aspects for one light radically changes your image.
The quality of light, or how soft the light is, relates to how large the light source is relative to the subject. A large light source close to a subject produces soft, wraparound light. A small light source at the same distance produces hard shadows and is more directional.
Finally, colored gels can be used with lights for various effects. Some gels correct color, others add creative effects.
One lighting style that is simple, effective and can be mastered in minutes is using a single large light, slightly off-center and above your subject. A large light source produces flattering, soft light with minimal shadows to worry about. Any skin blemishes are nicely filled in, and the skin takes on a healthy tone. Using a large light allows your subject a little room to move around while posing, giving you and your model more flexibility to get the shot, instead of stopping the shoot to reposition your light.
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