Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Day 37: What I've Learned About Lighting

(Joe, Lake Tahoe, September 2009) 

Last night in class we learned about lighting and how we as photographers need to learn how to work with it and sculpt it in a way that will allow us to get the shots we need. Lighting tells the story and by understanding the light you are in control of your story.

Things I learned:

Kelvin (Color temperature)- I needed to understand this a little more so I wiki'd it and this is what they said: "Color temperature is a characteristic of visible light that has important applications in lighting, photography, videography, publishing, and other fields. The color temperature of a light source is determined by comparing its chromaticity with that of an ideal black-body radiator. The temperature (usually measured in kelvins (K)) at which the heated black-body radiator matches the color of the light source is that source's color temperature; for a black body source, it is directly related to Planck's law and Wien's displacement law."

Two Principles of Light: 

1- The Rule of Fall Off: The closer the light source is to the subject, the quicker the light falls off the subject. Also, the closer the light, the more drastic the difference between shadow and light will be.

2- Angle of Incident- Angle of Reflection. If you want to light up a subject on the right side of the wall, but not put a direct light source on them, then direct the light on the left side of the wall. By doing this, the light will reflect directly to the right side. Up to down, down to up, right to left, left to right and so on.

Three Rules of Lighting: 

1- Side Lighting: The light source is either on the right or left of the subject and the camera is directly in front of the subject. This creates a drastic shadow on the opposite side of the light source on the object or person. Exactly half the object is in the shadow.

This type of lighting is used to create mystery and drama in the photo.

2- Rembrandt Lighting- The light source is above and on either the right or left side of the subject and camera is directly in front of the subject. The shadow that is cast for this is a perfect triangle on the opposite side of the light source.

The side in which the light is cast affect the subject. The left side is called the Short Rembrandt, this is used for people who have a rounder face. The right side is called Long Rembrandt, this is used for people with a long, narrow face with a defined jaw line.

3- Paramount Lighting (Butterfly lighting)- This is the most flattering of lighting. The light directly centered   and above the subject. With the light shining down, shadows are created under the eyes, and nose, which makes the facial structure especially the jaw line more defined. The camera is also directly in front of the subject.

Props to Help Sculpt Lighting: 

1- Silk Screen- This is a screen made with white silk. We use this to diffuse the light which creates a softer glow on the subject. The shadow lines are more diffused.

2- Black Board- Cuts the bounce of light off. This is to prevent reflection of lighting.

3- Fill Card (White board)- This bounces the light and is used to fill in the shadows.

4-Cookaloris- this is a board that has amoeba shapes cut into the board. This is used to break up the light and can help highlight the subject. This is reminiscent of sunlight filtering through the leaves on the tree.

5- Scrim- this is mesh like material that is used to change the quantity of light.

6- Flag- A board that blocks the light, this can be used to only light one side of the photo and not the other.

7- Snoot- Directs the light into a spot.

8- Barn Doors- Placed in front of the light source and shapes the light.

Other Points to Note: 

1- Direction of shadow=Direction of lighting
2- Definition of Shadow = Intensity of lighting

The most important thing I learned was that all these concepts and tools does not just apply to studio lights but all light sources. It's how I work with the light I am given that can make my shot. We don't need expensive equipment to get the shot, we just need to understand light and with a little imagination and hardware, we can create our own props to sculpt the light.

After learning this, I am less intimidated by lighting and with some practice I will be comfortable to work in the studio. I can't wait to get out there and practice  shots with lighting.

Below are some sites I've found to help me understand more: 

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