LIGHT — Chpt. 1,2,3
How to Learn Lighting
Throughout chapter one, we learned that lighting is not a set-in-stone concept. Through discussion, we would learn that it is more based on our opinion and our approach with aesthetics. Principles of lighting are extremely powerful when it comes to creating a photograph. The main principles are: the size of the light source, types of reflections, and the family of angles. I like having something less abstract to help calculate a photograph — I have never been able to just eyeball it. Although this chapter discusses doing more than reading about concepts, it is helpful to have some guidance while working through this process. When it comes to proper lighting equipment, the text does say that as a photographer, you will probably never have enough. Even with our camera set properly and an ample amount of light, we will typically still need to go in and manually adjust some aspects of the photo (in Lightroom or Photoshop). With this being said, not everyone needs specific equipment for every picture they take. Sometimes it’s as simple as moving your subject closer to a window. Good lighting is nice, but there are definitely ways to get creative with photo-taking. “Learn about the light and the science. The magic will happen.”
Light: The Raw Material of Photography
One could say that photographers resemble musicians more than visual artists. This is because photographers are more interested in manipulating energy compared to matter. Photography is the manipulation of light, so this compared actually begins to make sense the more I think about it. Light is a type of energy called ‘electromagnetic radiation’ and this travels through space in tiny bundles called ‘photons.’ Although having no mass, photons produce an electromagnetic field around themselves. Like an actual magnet, you cannot tell that the magnetic field exists until we move a piece of metal within a ‘grabbing’ distance. We call the rate of fluctuation of the electromagnetic field ‘frequency’ and we measure it in ‘Hertz.’ Newer cameras are more sensitive to frequencies than the human eye can detect, and this is why a picture can end up degraded by ultraviolet light. One goal of photography is to understand how the different lighting makes the viewer feel, not just how it appears on film. The mental takeaway is more important when it comes to the art side of photography. When taking a photo, consider the brightness, color, and contrast.
The Management of Reflection and the Family of Angles
Even if all the same hue and saturation, materials can reflect light differently (this is how you can texture). Not only because of the object, but also the lighting. Hard lighting comes from a small, direct light source, while soft lighting comes from a large (and typically distant) light source. Hard lighting creates harsh shadows and distinct lines. Soft lighting, however, looks much more natural. There is a time and place for both, but most photographers prefer soft lighting. This is why a lot of the times, they work towards diffusing their light source (either by covering it with a translucent material or reflecting it with something like an umbrella). For me, seeing the examples of a small light source compared to a large light source has helped me begin to understand the difference that they can make on a photograph. The soft shadows and reflection-filling photographs produced by a large light source comes off as way more natural than the other way around.