The Importance of Light in Photography

When it comes to photography, the type of lighting that you use is one of the most important elements of any photo. Light in photography refers to how the light source, which can be natural or artificial, is positioned in relation to your subject. The position and quality of light can affect any number of things in your final photo, from clarity to tone to emotion and so much more. By paying attention to how light plays off of the angles and curves of your subject, and which parts of the subject are illuminated and which are in darkness, you can become a stronger photographer because you’ll start to learn how to harness your light source in the most effective way for any given project.

Whether you’re doing portrait photography or still life or landscape, so much of your lighting choices will depend on your subject’s features and how you want them to be portrayed in your photos. For example, hard light is more severe and will emphasize angles and any surface that isn’t perfectly flat, like the waves at a beach or a model with wrinkles or acne, while soft light will smooth over these features.

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Suppose you’re doing a beauty shoot where the focus is flawless features. In that case, the type of lighting that you use will likely be very different from a photoshoot where you want to emphasize the personality and distinctive lines of your model’s face. Understanding how to make the best use of natural and artificial lighting in every situation will be a huge step forward in your journey to becoming the best photographer that you can.

Different Types of Lighting

There are two main kinds of light: natural and artificial. Natural light is anything that occurs without human intervention, so it can be the direct light of the sun on a bright day, the diffused light created by a cloudy or foggy day, or even the light of the moon at night. On the other side of things, artificial light can often be moved around and adjusted to fit your situation. It is easier to position artificial light in relation to your subject than with natural lighting. You would have to move the subject and camera according to the lighting technique you want to use. Both artificial and natural lighting can be manipulated to create any number of styles of lighting, as long as you know how to use them. Your photographs will be your most treasured wedding keepsake. Not sure where to start when it comes to looking for your wedding photographer of choice?

Soft Light vs. Hard Light

Different light sources have different qualities. These qualities are most noticeable in the shadows produced on photographs. If the light is diffuse, it creates fewer shadows with a softer differentiation between light and shadow. This is soft light. While it comes from a source, the light is spread out in many directions from that source. That is another way of saying that it isn’t directional. A cloudy day is an excellent example of soft light. It can be a very desirable look for many images and is usually preferable to hard light.

If you’re trying to make the light softer on your subject, you can use a diffuser. If you are shooting with a Speedlight, many have diffuser boxes that you can attach. These pieces of white plastic spread out the light and soften shadows. One of the important photography lighting techniques in soft-light photography is to use a bounce flash. By directing your flash at a larger object, you effectively create a flash out of that object. You can use a wall or a ceiling opposite your subject, which in effect diffuses the light hitting your subject. Professional photographers working with models often use what is known as a beauty box. These are large light setups that disperse a lot of light onto the subject but still produce a soft light look.

Hard light comes from a directional light, like a spotlight, a flash, or the sun. Shadows are very harsh, and there is a big difference between the lit areas and the dark. The result is a sharp look that is usually not what your clients are looking for on portraits. Hard light has its place in photography, but it often inspires a moody or dark feeling in your images.

Natural and Flash

The Importance of Light in Photography

Don’t leap to the conclusion that photography lighting is only about flashes and strobes. Sure, speedlights play a vital role in a lot of photo light setups, but the sun and moon are much more critical part of natural light photography. Natural light is one of the types of lighting in photography, in which the use of light is already present in the natural environment. If you’re outdoors, that’s light from the sun and everything the sun is bouncing off of. Indoors, it might be the light coming through the windows and those light sources already present, like lamps, candles, or fluorescent bulbs. You could make an entire career in photography and never use a strobe light.

Most photographers want a little more control over their photos, however. Speedlight are flashes that attach to your camera and use your camera’s metering system. They can usually be paired with other units around the scene to produce multiple light sources. They are flexible in that they can be positioned from any angle, any direction, and almost any distance from your subject.

More advanced studio lighting is available, which lights up specific areas of the frame like the background. Specialty lights can also have a particular purpose, such as softening shadows, creating catch light, or producing a colour tint. If you are doing a self-portraits session, you can experiment with lighting and take the composition in any direction you want.

Colour Temperature

All light sources have an associated colour temperature which measures in degrees Kelvin. Warmer colours have a lower temperature than cooler colours. They come from candles and incandescent lights. The colour temperature of Natural sunlight falls somewhere in the middle. When sunlight diffuses on cloudy days, it generally gets cooler. Fluorescent lights are very cool, with an almost blue cast to them.

Your camera’s white balance controls how it captures the temperature of the light. You can usually set the white balance several ways, and there’s nearly always an automatic setting. Once you begin working with several different light source, however, it becomes tough for the camera to pick the colour you want.

Here is how to set the white balance manually. Most cameras also have a manual setting mode. You can use a light meter to check the temperature of light on your subject in Kelvin and then input that. You can also take a sample image of a white object, like a square of fabric, and use that to set the camera.

Another great tip for dealing with colour temperature is to shoot in RAW mode. Files saved as JPEGs will not contain enough data to change the colour temperature after the fact. You can adjust the image hue and tint, but the results will always be less than satisfactory. A RAW file, on the other hand, will contain enough data to easily adjust the colour temperature as if you were still there taking the picture. Lightroom and other RAW editors have a slider to experiment with the colour temperature and fine-tune it as necessary. At Wild Romantic, we have the best wedding photographer in Mornington Peninsula to capture every single moment on your wedding day. 

Photography Lighting Basics: Begin by Shooting in Natural Light

By far, the best starting place is using natural light to learn how to do professional photography lighting. This removes a variable for the photographer: you can’t move or control the light source itself. But what you can do is move around, change the time of day, filter the light through a window with shades, and move the light behind the subject or in front of it.

By keeping it basic, you will learn the fundamentals of light. Shoot outdoors, and play with different lighting setups like direct sunlight, cloudy days, filtered light under trees, and shooting in dark shadows.

But what happens to this theory when there’s not enough light, you ask? For example, when you want to shoot indoors in a small room? Well, the photographer can add more light by creatively using the light sources already there. Lamps and candles can help you produce intimate portraits or delicate still-lifes. Consider what light sources are already in the room, and arrange your shoot around them. Filter the light coming through the windows. You can make some cool effects with blinds and control the light hitting your subject at the same time.

There are a few tools in the photographer’s toolkit that can help you modify and control natural light. Diffusers, which are held between the subject and the light, distribute the light to make it softer, avoiding deep shadows. Reflectors can help you add extra light to specific areas of a photo. They act as a mirror and can shine more light onto a subject’s face, for example. The great news about shooting with natural light and using these simple tools is that it’s almost free!

Use Strobes When Appropriate

Even if you are a natural light photographer, photography lighting equipment such as a flash or Speedlight has a place in your camera bag. You can also do continuous lighting photography where continuous lights are used. These are beneficial when a photographer has to see how a photo will look when the shoot is in process. This advantage is not there when you are using flash or strobe lights as the lights come in short bursts. While shooting with natural light sources produces beautiful photographs, sometimes it’s not the look you’re going for. Most portrait and fashion work are now done with artificial light so that the photographer can control every aspect of how the light falls on the subject. As a result, naturally lit portraits are becoming more and more the realm of fine art photographers.

More than One Light

The more you play with photography lighting basics, the more you will start using and thinking about multiple light sources. Multiple strobes give you the ability to control every aspect of photo light falling on your model, from the highlights to the shadows.

In strobe light photography, the best lighting for photography is to have two light sources on each side of the camera, 45-degrees between being a straight-on light source and a sidelight when you are taking portraits. This placement produces a soft shadow and depth while leaving out harsh dark shadows. The two lights balance each other out, so the light source will ideally appear diffuse and soft on the subject’s face.

With all your light in front of the model, dark shadows may appear in the background when you are setting up indoor photography lighting. A third light source is often used to light the background. Just like the model, this light could be in front of or behind the background. If you are thinking of outdoor photography lighting, then the background (third) light source might well be the sun. Practising such setups will help you to move towards professional photography lighting. 

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High Key vs. Low Key Lighting

If you flip through the pages of your favourite photography or fashion magazine, you’ll notice that most of the photos are bright and well lit. In fashion photography, in particular, the trend is towards more light and fewer shadows. These images seldom have much depth to them, but they have just enough shadow to keep things looking real. This is known in the industry as high key lighting.

The opposite of high key is low key. In low key photos, the photography lighting setup is more natural and perhaps even darker. Images of this style are more intimate and usually used to give a more raw feeling to the picture.

Low Light Photography

As the amount of light enters the camera change, the camera settings must change to correctly capture the image. What doesn’t necessarily charge are the photography lighting basics discussed above. Light placement, direction, hardness, and temperature all still apply. But your camera might capture it better than you can see it.

Low light photography requires the use of a tripod, even though that’s a good practice almost all of the time. The longer shutter speeds necessary to capture low light images will pick up blur and camera shake, so it’s mandatory to have the camera mounted securely and your subject’s movements carefully controlled.

When your exposure lasts more than a few seconds, strobes no longer help the image significantly. They can, however, be used to illuminate the front-end or back-end of long exposure with special settings. More useful is the concept of light painting. Using a powerful photo light, you can illuminate a subject or a foreground area for an extended period. If you’re shooting astrophotography or lightning, you will often find that the foreground landscape is too dark. You can fix this by light painting the dark parts of the image while the shutter is still open. You will have to experiment with the amount of light and its duration to get the perfect exposure.

4 Types Of Artificial Lighting You Should Know

The Importance of Light in Photography

The role of lighting in any type of building, particularly the home, should not be underemphasized. Indoor lighting design is an integral part of interior design basics often attend to with levity. Adequate lighting help enhances and brings out the beauty of a well-decorated home. The right lighting can make or mar your home design, detailed research about the type of lighting that exists, their features and qualities.

The best way to implement lighting design for your house is to use different lighting types combined together in your home. Natural lighting from skylights or windows depending on the day and time of the day but can’t suffice a modern home design, and as such artificial lighting should be fixed and functional and stylish. Types of artificial lighting based on their functions are ambient, task and accent lighting. Wild Romantic Photography has the best range of services of wedding photography Yarra Valley. Check them out here. 

Accent Lighting

Accent lighting also called highlight lighting, is used to pinpoint particular areas of the home. Accent lights bulbs point directly at particular areas such as art pieces, picture frames. It is used to draw attention to an area or object and is often used outdoor can be used indoor for dining, living rooms, bathroom and the kitchen. Chandeliers and low wattage lamps can be used for accenting particular areas in your home. They come in different sizes and shapes.

Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting is also known as general light, is the common type of lighting that can be used anywhere. It provides general illumination to the room space. Ambient lighting can be ceiling mounted, recessed, wall sconce or floor lamp and can be adjusted to control the brightness. Most designs of ambient lighting are cheap and easy to fix or repair.

Task Lighting

As the name implies, task lighting is a type of lighting used for particular activities such as reading, cooking, and makeup. Task light targets its illumination at a particular task that requires lighting, and it can be found on the kitchen countertops and desk surfaces. Task lighting can be used in the dining room and even under kitchen countertops.

Decorative Lighting

Decorative Lightings are not a common feature of every modern house but can be a great lighting design as well. Decorative lighting comes in varieties of colours, shapes or mixtures of different colours and shapes. The most common type of decorative lights is Christmas lights and foyer lightings. Decorative lighting can be used anywhere in the house as long as it is decorative. If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.

Lighting plays an important in home decorations and should not be neglected. Above listed are few ideas for choosing to light for your new house or remodel your old home. You can choose any type of lighting bulbs for these functions and mix and match two or more styles together depending on your choice.