Photography Lighting is one of the most important elements of producing a good photo. You can use anything from outside natural lighting to photo studio lighting to make that perfect photo. Personally, I adhere to what is known as the Standard “3-Point Lighting Technique”. What this this means is that in a studio photo shoot, I like to have up to 3 lights coming toward the subject from different angles. Your main light is called a “Key Light”. This is the strongest and brightest light and typically I will place it to one side of my subject so one side is well lit and the other side has shadowing. The second light is called a “Fill Light”. The Fill light is placed on the opposite of the key light and functions to fill-in the shadows. You will want your lighting to be less powerful for the Fill Light, and I typically like it to be a warmer or softer light. The final light which makes up the 3-Point Lighting Technique is the “Back Light” which is placed behind the subject. When you see photos that have a 3 dimensional look to them, typically that happens because a back lighting technique was employed. Back Lights are what creates the definition of the photo and it helps to separate the subject from the background. I addition to the Standard 3-Point Lighting Technique, here are 5 tips that will help you in taking the perfect photo:
1. Use broad lighting sources – The broader your light source, the softer the light. I like broad lighting sources because they create fewer shadows which can be of critical import when taking portraits.
2. Place your lighting source close to the subject – I find that by having the lighting source close to my subject, I have a more even and natural illumination. The closer the light, the more broad the subject while the further the light, the more narrow the subject.
- Use Side Lighting more than Front Lighting for Landscapes – Front Lighting has a tendency to de-emphasize the texture of the foreground. While front lighting might be good for a portrait, it is not preferred for landscape photography. You will have added “texture” by having the lighting to the side. I will typically use Front Lighting for Portraits because it is good for reducing facial imperfections.
- Don’t be afraid to use shadows – I like to include shadows in many of my photos because it creates a three-dimensional look. Aside from portraits, shadows seems to bring more body to the photo. This is particularly true with landscape photography and gives your photo a more natural and genuine look.
- Fine tune your “color temperature” – Light has color even when it is white. Although you may not see the color, the sensors in your camera will and translate color in your photos. This is important especially in outdoor photography as you will have a more bluish color during the day and softer tones in early morning and late afternoon. This is why many of your best photos will occur around sunrise and sunset.
If you can master the Standard 3-Point Lighting Technique and use the tips I described above, your photography lighting will create photos which are more natural, full and more vivid.