Photography is an art. People spend hours in museums and galleries analyzing a photograph looking for a hidden meaning. Like paintings, photographs also have a message; sometimes it will create sadness or happiness, a carefree attitude, or calm mood. The range is broad. There are many techniques a new photographer can learn to produce emotions they like to create. One technique is using natural light another one is artificial or studio lighting.
First of all, don’t be afraid, you’re making a natural light portrait, not a natural shade portrait. Sure you could just hustle someone into one hundred percent shade and you might get a decent shot. But it won’t be a great shot. Photographers use light like cooks use spice, so go for it, use that light. Don’t hide from it.
A good reason not to be afraid is that with natural light you’re free! No lights, no cords, no batteries, no generators. You don’t have to worry about tripping over your stuff and having it blow over in a sudden gust of strong wind. Better still you don’t have to worry that you or your subject will move into a position that screws up the lighting design that you just set up over twenty (or more) painful minutes. Freedom from all these worries and the relaxed attitude that comes with it can be awfully helpful and can lead to the creation of portraits that aren’t just lighted in a natural way, but are well, natural. Revel in your freedom.
You will definitely need to acquire a reflector/diffuser, and they come in shapes and sizes from the circumference of a dinner plate up the height and breadth of a small sail. A reflector that size can be pretty pricey to buy and less than ideal to carry around; something around forty inches should be good enough. Most real photographic reflectors come with a removable-reversible cover so they’ll have a gold and a silver surface as well as a black and white one, and with the cover completely removed they can double as diffusers to put directly between the sun and your subject. One good way to use a reflector is simply move to a position where the sun creates a rim light on the top or edge of your subject’s hair and then put the reflector opposite the sun to throw fill on the face. And if you really don’t want to splurge for even the minimal expense of reflector, white foam core from an art supply store will work too. Even regular cardboard from an old box will reflect some light, not much it’s true, but it will at least give you a nice warm reflection. And unless you have an assistant or three arms, you’ll also need a stand (one is enough) to clip your reflector onto because it won’t stay where you want it to by itself. Believe me, I’ve tried it.
Tungsten bulbs and portable flash units are most often used by professional photographers in a studio environment. Tungsten bulbs are nicknamed “hot lights” because of the high temperature they cause. A tungsten bulb will create more red and lower the blue. In other words tungsten produces warmer colors. Flash units are able to capture or freeze the action due to their high flash speed.
Most studio illumination kits come with accessories that creates Hard and Soft light effects. For example; umbrellas and collapsible white/silver reflectors diffuse the light to create soft light effect. In general soft light is known as spreading the light evenly. On the other hand hard light will add contrast and harsh shadows.
When using an indoor source especially artificial light you need to understand exposure. When the environment is darker it takes longer to expose the film to capture an image. On the other hand if you overexpose an image, most of your details will be washed out.
Another important consideration is the angle of the light. It’s recommended to use tripods to change the angle to suit your needs. The angle of the light creates various types like front, back or side light.
Raising or lowering the light source is another effective way to manipulate studio effects. Using an adjustable leg or a tripod you can raise or lower your main or side sources. This way you can create high or under light effects. The brightest light in a studio setup is also known as the “main light.”
The positioning of your main light determines the overall composition and its details. For example a direct or diffused main light from the front will flatter your subject. The placement of the main light will determine where the highlights and shadows take place.
Raising the main source will minimize or eliminate unwanted shadows. On the other hand lowering the main light also known as under light creates the most unnatural light effect.
Directing main light straight at the object will bounce the light everywhere. It is recommended to shoot from the side or up from the ground to control shadows and highlights. Especially when shooting portraits it is good idea to use more than one high side light in order to create a natural look.
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