Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Studio-Quality Lighting Made Easy
Discover creative lighting effects for any budget
At some point in time, many photographers decide to try their hand at portrait or studio work. After disappointing results with their camera's built-in flash, they begin to look into studio lighting solutions.
Although the proper equipment makes it easier to get professional-quality results, you don't need to spend thousands of dollars. In fact, when you're just starting out, simpler is better.
The biggest problem with on-camera flash is that your lighting is harsh, often with that "deer in the headlights" look. Throw in some red-eye for good measure and you have the typical snapshot that we've all seen and taken.
The simple solution is to move the light off the camera by way of a TTL sync cord or, as in the case of some systems, wireless-flash technology. With the flash off-camera, you not only can reduce the occurrence of red-eye, but also eliminate the flat look of direct flash. By placing the flash at a 45-degree angle to the camera, you can use light to evoke a sense of depth by the creation of contrast between light and shadow.
Utilizing the flash off-camera also allows you the flexibility to diffuse the light by bouncing the light off a reflective surface such as a reflector or white wall. In this way, harsh shadows are eliminated and there's no glare from direct flash.
For portraits, while I have one flash to one side of the subject's face, I also use a large piece of white posterboard to reflect light back onto the shadowed side of the subject's face. The light on the reflected side isn't as strongly illuminated as the side being lit by flash, so the face has a pleasing dimensional look that would be missing from direct flash.
Using a reflector is effectively like having two different flashes on the subject. It's often all that's needed to produce excellent results. If you have access to indirect window light or if you're shooting outdoors, a reflector is an excellent and simple addition to your kit for portraits.
Page 1 of 3