Many people love taking pictures, but it is hard to create great photographs if you can't properly light a scene. Knowing how to use light will not only make you a more confident photographer, but will also unleash your creativity, helping you to take more breathtaking photos. Light makes photography possible, but it is can also be one of the hardest elements to fully master. Anyone can learn the basics of lighting and take their first step toward becoming a better photographer.
The brightness of a scene is known as its exposure. A scene with normal or neutral exposure will look the way we see it with the naked eye. Even high-end cameras can't capture as much light as the human eye, and because of this photographers need to use different camera settings to manipulate the brightness of a scene, especially if looking for a natural looking photo. The adjustment of neutrals in an image in order to maintain their original neutral colors is referred to as White Balance.
Aperture & ISO
Aperture controls how much light enters the camera, shutter speed changes how long an exposure lasts (the amount of time a camera's shutter is open and allowing in light), and ISO speed affects the camera's sensitivity to a specific amount of light. You most often hear the term shutter speed when discussing exposure timing. Even though you can mix these to get the same exposure, they do come with their own unique trade-offs that influence how an image will look. Mastering these trade-offs is the key to consistently lighting images the way you want to.
The picture of the pinwheels below is a great example demonstrating the use of how different shutter speeds effect the look of a photo. Fast shutter speeds capture and freeze actual moving subjects/objects which does not depict any movement. On the other hand, slow shutter speeds suggest movement in a photograph depicting the actual movement of the subject or object.
Quality refers to the texture of light, whether it is hard or soft. Hard light creates well-defined shadows, while soft light produces little or no shadow. You can adjust your light's quality by changing the relative sizes and distance between your object and light source. As a rule, the closer and larger your light source, the softer the shadows it will create.
Photographers measure color on the electromagnetic spectrum, ranging from warm to cool. Warm color is on the red side of the spectrum, while cool colors are on the blue side. Photographers can use light sources of different colors, which are measured in K on the Kelvin color temperature scale, to change the look of an image. This is the reason many photographers use fluorescent bulbs, which come in a range of colors. Color Balance refers to the adjustment of colors in the image to reflect the same coloring as the actual colors from the original scene you shot. These are difference between the sensors of the camera and the naked human eye.
Direction refers to how light falls on an object. Since light is directional, you can change how an image looks simply by changing the location of a light source, or using reflectors to pinpoint where it lands on an object. In fact, changing the direction in your images is one of the easiest ways to create interesting and unique effects.
An example of how directional light enhances texture on a two dimensional plane.
An image's contrast refers to the range between its highlights, the brighter areas, and shadow, the darker ones. The more difference between them, the higher the contrast. Photographers use contrast to direct the viewer's attention to the important areas of an image. You can create contrast by using light and dark tones in black-and-white photography or different colors if you are taking color pictures.
You can see the significant contrast differences between the three photos below.
Lomography are alternative methods to traditional photography. Trying to get a consistent description of Lomography is not always an easy task and at least for me, a bit frustrating. The reason for this inconsistency is that there really isn't any clearly defined lines or rules when it comes to Lomography and that is pretty much what Lomography is. OK, I know, but you really need a description! Think of Lomography a free-form photography that ignores all conventional rules of regular photograph, using film and different processing techniques. Lomography is most commonly described as being a laid back, spontaneous, creative candid view of photography. The rules are really defined by the photographer and their creative preferences.
There are 10 Golden Rules of Lomography (Kinetic Typography). Some traditional photographers may not agree with me connecting the 10 Golden Rules of Lomography with traditional photography, but hey, to each its own. I have been an avid photographer for over ten years now and before I ever heard of Lomography and its 10 Golden Rules, to my amazement these have always been "rules" that I have follow. Let's take a closer look at what these 10 Golden Rules are, as well as how I incorporate them into my photography.
1. Take your camera EVERYWHERE you go! I don't care if I'm just taking a trip to the grocery store, I still have my camera on me. My reason being, you never know what you may encounter. Maybe you come across some really awesome wildlife, beautiful flowers, a double rainbow, the list goes on and on. You get my point though, right?
2. Shoot your photography during the day and at night. Don't be afraid and avoid taking pictures at night. Just as subjects/objects that we see in the daylight look one way, at night they look another way, so why not photograph it (this is where all the information that I've listed above comes into play and becomes a great resource to reference). Think of it this way, if you are limiting yourself to shooting photography only during the day, you're only getting a 50% chance at shooting diverse, creative photos.
3. Take shots from the neck, chest, hip, knee, and foot area's. Once again, don't limit yourself. Shooting at different heights and areas, give you completely different views and angles.
4. Approach your subjects/objects as closely as possible. Depending on the shot you're going for, this rule is really based on preference and the subject matter and situation. However, I've always found it to be best practice to eliminate as many background distractions as possible to allow for complete focus on the object/subject (your hot spot). Now how do I achieve this? You guessed it, by approaching my subjects/objects as closely and safely as possible.
5. Don't Think Too Much! Come on now when have you ever been told to over think anything? My guess would be, not ever.
6. Be Fast, Be Faster, Be Fastest! Now do you see why you shouldn't think to much? Just click away, keep clicking, and then click some more. You may pull your camera away from your face for a split second and miss an incredible shot.
7. You Don't Have To Know Before Hand. Don't plan what you're gonna photograph, JUST DO IT! Any time that I've tried to plan my photos out ahead of time, they turn out to be nothing but an epic fail full of disappointment and frustrations. I promise you will have much a much better out come when you just turn on your camera and start shooting.
8. And Don't Plan It Out Afterwards. This one's self-explanatory.
9. Don't Worry About Any Rules!
10. KEEP SHOOTING! Just keep shooting, just keep shooting, just keep shooting (in my best Finding Nemo Dory voice).
Photography is art, plain and simple. Art allows you to be as creative as you want or don't want, that's the whole point. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Don't get hung up on an endless list of rules. You know why? Because you'll never get to enjoy and experience photography to it's fullest. I'm not saying stop learning about photography and what it has to offer. Sometimes in order to bend the rules, you have to know what those rules are in the first place.
Leave a comment for me below. Are you brand new to the fascinating world of photography or are you a seasoned photographer? What are you favorite areas of photography? What are your thoughts on this article. I love hearing feedback, let's spark up some discussions! ;)
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