Photography Basics: Part 4 (Lighting)

In the first 3 posts, we talked about the 3 features of a camera, which are ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture. Now we’ll admit: Lighting is the most intriguing subject of the 4 features because it has the most “effect” on the photograph. Without light, you have no image, but with light, you have an image…. Lighting is also like gravity. In other words, it’s a basic law (i.e. what comes up must go down), but it also can be stretched (more on that below)….

One of the things that is so awesome about a dedicated camera (Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc.) is that it focuses on that one thing very well. Secondly, the thing that differentiates it from a phone is that you can get very, very creative with the lighting! Canon (I believe) has the only radio wireless technology associated with its lighting system (correct me if I’m wrong!), and with us being one of the few photography companies nowadays using it, that means we can produce some very interesting shots with it!

Now, on the fact that lighting is a basic law that can be stretched: Well, the best way we can explain it is to look at the one constant source of light, which is the sun. The light comes in at the same intensity every day; however, various obstacles “block” its intensity, whether it’s clouds, or rain, or an object (such as a tree or house). The “flash” (as we call it) gives this same approach. In other words, without anything to “diffuse” the light coming at a subject, the light comes in “hard,” with hard shadows. So, in essence, that is the “basic law” part of lighting: When a light “flashes” on a subject, the light normally is hard. On the other hand, when lighting is stretched: The light comes in, but it is “diffused” by a softbox, wall or ceiling. With just that example, the light (although it originated as “hard” light) shows up on the subject as “soft” light, or light that is transferred evenly onto a subject. You can see a few examples below:

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In the above shot,* the flash was pointing directly at our subject. Believe it or not, this one used “hard light” from the flash, meaning the light coming from the flash was not diffused in any way. Hard shadows are present, but they are not apparent in the above image because of how we shot it (at a particular angle)…. Because of the flash’s automatic settings, it produced “just enough” light to create a properly exposed image. As a note, if the flash did “not” fire, you would have seen her just as dark as the person in the background….

*Credit: West Mitchell Street CME Church 2015 Black Tie Gala: Westin Atlanta Airport Hotel, Atlanta, Georgia (Pastor Lisa Allen-McLaurin)

 

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In this shot,* the ceiling was used as a big “softbox” to diffuse the light on the objects in this image….

*Credit: Bridal Makeover Explosion: Penthouse Theatre: The AmericasMart, Atlanta, Georgia

 

Interesting, ain’t it??…. Here’s another fact about lighting: On a flash, the light can either be controlled automatically or manually. For instance, in the above shot of Pastor, the flash was set to its “automatic” setting; however, in the shot of the products, the flash was set to 1/6th power. We set it manually because of the fact that the flash bounces off the ceiling, and automatic flash doesn’t always get it right…. The “manual” flash power setting was determined by our camera settings, and the height of the ceiling (i.e. the higher the ceiling, the more flash power is needed; the lower the ceiling, the less flash power….)….

Of course, this is the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to lighting; there is MUCH more where that came from!…. To not overwhelm you with a whole lot of jargon regarding lighting, we’ll talk more about this and photography as a whole in subsequent posts. Besides, once you understand “the big picture” (and believe you me, it takes time!), you’ll be able to get some amazing shots….

More is to come, so stay tuned, ladies and gents….

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