Today we will be talking about lighting: the types of lighting, and the pros and cons of each. The light you choose for your photo is a very important factor of photography. The direction the light is coming from plays an important part also; the way the light hits your subject could very well be the making of a wonderful, or terrible, photo.
First, let’s talk about the main natural lightings, starting with dawn/dusk.
This is one of my personal favorites. Silhouette photos work especially well in these lightings–when the sun is just rising, or falling, on the horizon. When working in either one of these lights, I would recommend having your subject face the sun, so that their face (if, in fact, your subject happens to have one; trees don’t) isn’t in full shadow. With person or animal subject facing the sun, be in front of them, slightly to the right or left (so your shadow doesn’t fall on them) and snap your picture.
If you want to take a silhouette picture, then you would stand behind your subject, whether it be person, animal, or tree. Silhouettes are basically simple, though sometimes you may need to darken the composure if you’re not getting a dark enough silhouette. But we’ll talk all about that later on. This is one of the many photos you can get when in dawn/dusk lighting.
One of the benefits of this lighting is that when taking a portrait photo, it smooths out complexions pretty well, sometimes giving the subject a slightly younger look. One of the downsides is that, a lot of the time, your shadow gets in the way. If you position yourself correctly, though, this should not be too hard to avoid.
This lighting can be suitable for most any photo, from portrait to landscape. A lot of photographers like this lighting because cameras focus really well in it. Overcast lighting also makes each color flow into the next, smoothing out the subject. This is especially beautiful after it rains and the water droplets catch the grey light of the sun through the clouds.
This is a photo taken about an hour after it rained.
A benefit to this lighting is the way it makes colors smooth, and a depth field is easily seen in this light. A downside is that sometimes it gives the subject a very flat, depleted look.
This lighting is not good for portraits. If you were to try and take a picture of someone’s face in this lighting, your subject’s eyes would be in deep shadow, and their nose would cast a shadow on their mouth. This can cause someone to look much older than they are.
If you must do a portrait in this lighting, then have your subject stand under a shady tree or pretty much anywhere that blocks a bit of the sun. Trees and other plants look great in this lighting when angled correctly (we’ll talk about angle in a later post). Photos of animals are much the same as for people, but they work better in this lighting than a person would. This is a photo I took around two or three o’clock and it turned out as a nice silhouette.
One of the pros for this lighting is that it really brightens your photo, and trees and plants work really well in this lighting. One of the cons is that this one is pretty bad for portraits.
This lighting is okay, but is not normally preferable. You can still get good photos in this light, but natural lighting would do a better job. If I have to take an indoor photo, I usually find a window so that natural light can filter in. If there’s no window near your subject, then I would recommend taking that photo in black and white. This is a photo I took indoors.
The pro of this one is that you can be in air conditioning when you take your photo; really, that’s the only good thing I can think of about this lighting. The con is that light bulb light just does not look good in a photo.
Most photographers prefer natural lights, and I have found that photographers like every one of the lightings mentioned above, each for a different reason.
I hope you enjoyed learning about lighting. Come back next month for more tips on photography.