Another Sneak Peak, Photographic Lighting for Everybody

1.         Approach to Lighting

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Turner, Rembrandt, Monet, and other fine-art painters knew that using certain colors, brush strokes, and lighting effects

could manipulate the viewer’s experience of what they are seeing in a painting . Photogra- phers can do the same thing . With observa- tion, attention to detail, and knowledge of the quality of light, you can transform a scene and more clearly communicate your message to the viewer .

Lighting Sets the Mood

Let’s take a moment to think about how lighting evokes emotion . Think about how movie directors choose certain lighting scenarios to tell the audience how they should feel about

a scene . Nostalgia is depicted by soft, warm, and fuzzy lighting . Danger can be indicated by lighting that is dark or harsh or seems to come from an unusual angle . Happiness can be exhibited through bright, open lighting Whether it’s the soft evening sunset, the hard directional lighting of an oncoming car’s headlights, or lighting from behind to show a mysterious human form in silhouette, light- ing helps tell the story . The key is deciding what you want to express . What story do you want to tell in a single frame? Understanding

how the quality of light impacts viewers will help you to express the meaning of your im- age more clearly .

In the following sections, I will break it down to the basics and give you the tools to achieve your image goals .

Highlights and Shadows

Highlights are the bright (white or nearly white) areas in an image In terms of lighting, these brighter areas are created where the light levels are high and/or the light strikes your scene or subject, either directly or indi- rectly . Images with lots of these lighter t

tend to feel airy, clean, and often cheerful . As the brightness of the highlights approaches pure white, less detail will be recorded in these areas; that is an important consider- ation when determining he exposure of your image .Unintentional loss of detail can result

“understanding how the quality of light impacts viewers

will help you to express the meaning of your image more clearly.”

approach to lighting   13

in images that fail to meet our expectations . (Note: There may be times when you choose to include areas of pure white or black, but those should be intentional decisions made to achieve creative objectives .)

Shadows are dark (black or nearly black) areas in an image . These darker tones are created in areas where little light ispresent or the light is blocked from some or all of your scene/subject . Images with lots of darker tones can feel mysterious,subdued, or dramatic .

As when thinking about highlights, exposure is a concern; when the shadows are under- exposed, they can reach pure black and the detail r    ded in these areas will be lost .

In most images we see or create, there is a relative balance of highlights and shadows . In some images, however, you maychoose to create a preponderance of highlights (bright tones) or shadows (dark tones) to reflect the message you want toconvey in your image .

images 2-1 and 2-2 (above and facing page, top). These two images show the same forest, but we get different moodsjust from a change in the direction of light. I don’t like to see smoke in the woods—but photographically it can bebeautiful or mysterious.

The first image was taken when the sun was coming from the side of the smoke, making it appear more like a spirit, and brightening up the rest of the scene.

For the second image, the sun was behind the smoke, illuminating the smoke more, but darken- ing the rest of the scene and making it look it

mysterious or ominous.


A second consideration with highlights and shadows is the degree of difference between the darkest and lightest areasof an image .

This difference is called “contrast .” The bigger the difference between the highlights and shadows, the more contrast inthe image . This can enhance the sense of dimension and de-

14   photographic lighting for everybody

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