As a beginning photographer, one of the best ways to improve your pictures is by improving your lighting. Setting the right light can alter the quality, clarity, and mood of your photos. As you become more comfortable with the mechanics of your camera, especially its manual settings, playing with light sources and elements can add new depth to your subjects and dimension to your work. These are some basic tips you can use during your next project to improve your photographic lighting:
Use constant light instead of flash whenever possible. Flash photography is useful in some circumstances, but as a rule of thumb you want to implement light sources into your photo without flash. You can use artificial lights for indoor settings, but natural light is usually preferred.
Position the light source based on your photo type. Landscape and portrait photos demand different types of light to accentuate figures and either augment or diminish shadow and sharp detail. For portraits, you want to use light that is behind your subject to illuminate the face without causing shadows. You want to keep the light source above the subject, but not too high as to create unflattering shadows on the face. When taking portraits, you should also use more than one light source to reduce shadows on one side of the face.
Front lighting will make objects sharper, which is good for landscapes, but not for portraits. Landscapes always use natural lighting, so you’ll have to play with the angle of the photograph rather than the angle of the lighting to get it right.
Use shadows pointedly. As a rule of thumb, you want to reduce shadows in your photos because they cover up details and can create unflattering shapes in portraits. But, you can use shadows to your advantage as part of the photographic design. Shadows can make your photo more three dimensional. However, you don’t want to use them in portraits where it will distort or cover up your subject’s face.
Use the color tone of light to your advantage. Light may seem colorless, but it has subtle hues that can alter or in some cases enhance the quality of your photos. Matching the lighting hue to the color tones in your photograph will accentuate the colors and make them more vibrant. Incandescent and morning light have a warm tone, whereas fluorescent and midday lighting have a bluish tint. Keep this in mind when choosing your lighting source or time of your photo shoot.
Want to learn more about photography lighting?
Every third Saturday from 10am to 12pm, Tendo Photography offers a FREE lighting workshop to local photographers and student photographers. You will get the opportunity to learn how to use various lighting equipment in-studio and on-location. You get hands-on experience with professional equipment, and can improve your technique tremendously after just one workshop. Participants should have basic knowledge of operating a camera and how to use manual settings on a digital camera. Stay connected for more workshops to come!