Focus on Lighting Photos (Part 1)

I actually enjoy reading a lot more than writing ☺ and the most recent book I have read was “Focus On Lighting Photos” by Fil Hunter and Robin Reid. Perhaps it is obvious as a photography book; and it appears to be targeted for basic/beginner camera user (like me).

Focus On Lighting Photos: Focus on the Fundamentals

Lighting is one of the most important aspect of taking a good photo – by having a really good understanding on this subject, hopefully we would be able to significantly improve the quality of the photo that we produce.

Following is what I consider as key points from the book and I am hoping that we will find it useful.

1. We often find that our (existing) lights will not do what we want without modifiers. There are few types we need to know about : mirror/reflector, fill light, diffuser.

2. In portraiture, there is almost always a main/key light. It can be in form of reflector material such as a white board. We want a fairly large light source because it is softer. White reflector will produce softer light, while silver would be brighter.

3. Silver reflects the light like a mirror, it will look similar to the original light source. That means a big silver reflector behaves exactly like a small one.

4. Fill Light brightens the shadows.

5. We need to learn 3 things : where to put the light, what size it should be, and how to make a fill.

6. On a cloudless day, the Sun is a small, hard light. On a very cloudy day, the Sun is a huge soft source of light. Usually we want something in between.

7. Photographers vignette images (darkening the edges of a portrait that is mostly dark or lightening the edges when the image is mostly light) to help direct the viewer eye to the subject and makes the edge of the image sort of fade away instead of just cutting off.

8. With the most sophisticated camera-flash combination, a monkey can shoot 800 pictures and get at least one good one. Turning off the automation, we can shoot five or six pictures and get at least one good one. Message : Don’t be a monkey.

9. Small Lights make hard shadows; Big Lights make soft shadows. Small flash is small light. A large light is the kindest light for faces.

10. The distance between the light source and diffusion also affects the effective size of the light; the farther away, the bigger the light. Moving an undiffused light farther away makes it a small light.


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