In the world of photography, lighting is extremely important! It really makes or breaks a picture. It’s what makes the difference between an everyday snapshot and an awesome photo, and after today you’ll know how to deal with it like a pro!
The first thing you need to know is that the camera does not process light and shadow the same way our eyes do. Our eyes are really good at taking in a scene which contains both bright areas and shadowy areas, but a camera can’t do that. In your photos you can only expose properly for the light areas or the dark areas. If you choose your exposure for the light areas, the shadowed areas will look super dark. If you choose your exposure for the darker areas, the highlighted areas will be over-bright. Either of these look especially bad when it happens on a person! So in order to learn to master lighting, you need to find/create situations in which there isn’t so much contrast between the light and dark parts of the scene.
So there are a couple of no-fail lighting situations where it’s easy to get a great picture. The first is shooting on an overcast day. In that case, you can shoot anywhere and in any direction and it will look good because the clouds diffuse the sunlight, eliminating the harsh light/shadow contrast.
The second is shooting in what’s called open shade, which means that you’re not really deep into a shaded area, but are near the edge of the shade closer to the light. And when you shoot in the shade, you want to have your subject face towards the light so you don’t get what’s commonly referred to as “dead eyes” with no catch lights. You want the light to reflects as catch lights which gives the eyes life and sparkle! These photos were taken in the shade of a building.
While shooting in overcast situations and in open shade can be easier, I really love using sunlight! The best times to shoot with sunlight are within the first hour or so after sunrise or in the last hour or two before sunset. At these times the light is soft, golden and beautiful. Soft light doesn’t produce the harsh contrast that you get at other times of the day. I like to have the subject between me and the sun.
Indoors near large windows with indirect lighting you can also get nice soft light!
So go out and start experimenting with lighting! It’s a really fun subject and it’s so exciting when it all begins to come together and your pictures begin to look amazing!