This blog post will guide
you through all the necessary steps to recreate successful studio lighting
using Canon flashguns that can be set up in almost any situation, though the
same setup may be achieved with other brands in a similar fashion.
Shooting in a studio or similar scenario is an excellent way to learn how
light can affect your photos. These lessons can be used in any
photographic situation, be it a highly controlled studio setup or shooting with
natural light in an uncontrolled environment.
|DCW's Portrait Photography Demo at Sydney Morning Herald's Photo1440 Workshop|
The following are some general rules for lighting -
1) The larger the light source when compared to the subject, the softer the quality of the light that falls on the subject. This is because the larger light source wraps around the subject, softening the edge of shadows. As the light source gets smaller you’ll notice the shadow edges become more defined.
Moving a large light source closer to the subject also has the effect of softening the shadows while moving the light away makes the edge of the shadow sharper and more defined.
If you diffuse a light source, the light scatters and results in a softened quality as the diffuser essentially becomes the light source. For example - On a bright, sunny day the shadows are strongly defined as the light source is far away i.e. the sun. If passing clouds then block the sun, the light will soften as it becomes diffused by the clouds, thus simultaneously drawing the light source closer as the clouds now become the source. So you can look at it two ways - the hard light source is now diffused OR the light source is now very large and close.
This occurs by making the wall a light source. As the wall is much larger than the size of the flash, the light also becomes a lot softer. This requires a greater power output from your flash as some light is lost from the wall and the light also has to travel further to reach the subject. Be aware of the colour of the wall as the light from your flash will change to whatever colour the wall is i.e. red wall equals red light, green wall equals green light, etc.
3) Front lighting diminishes texture, side lighting (from any direction) emphasizes texture and rear lighting highlights the shape of the subject.
The direction of a light source has a big affect on the appearance of texture in an image. Lighting from the side will increase the appearance of texture on surfaces while light hitting the subject from the camera position will flatten the texture in an image. To achieve this, the light should be un-diffused as a diffused light source will soften the shadows and may even eliminate the texture. Light from behind the subject highlights the shape of the subject; a prime example of this would be a silhouette.
1) A messy background will interfere with a good portrait. That is unless the background helps to tell the story of the portrait. For example - a violinist may have a portrait taken with their violin in the background to tell the viewer more about the subject. If the background doesn’t assist the story then blur it out as much as you can with a large aperture or if possible, get rid of any distracting elements completely. There’s nothing flattering about seeing images of people with trees sprouting from their heads.