How to Use Light in Photographs
You may think that the camera, the subject or even the environment is what can make or break a photograph. In reality, it’s the light. Think about it. Not enough light or too little light can make a picture blurry, washed out or just plain bad. But if the lighting is used correctly, the photo can be perfect and beautifully artistic.
Image Credit: Alex Mody
Using the automatic setting usually works for most photographers, especially those not taking shots for professional reasons. This setting allows the camera to use the built in light meter and to measure the amount of light that is being reflected into that camera at that moment. But using that setting doesn’t mean you click the button and the picture is perfect. There are more factors:
- angle of light
- use of shadows
- indoor or outdoor rays of light
All of these features can work to help your lighting as you take photographs. The angle of light can be used to add some very powerful shadows such as on a statue. Light angling to one side of the face can add more depth to the picture. Just as shadows can add that extra striking depth to a picture, so can the actual rays of light.
Rays of light can add a brilliant effect to outdoor or indoor shots. A sunset, light from a window, or a gleam off of an item, any of these settings can add something special to an otherwise normal photo. By using a narrow aperture—a high f/stop—and a very slow shutter speed, this effect isn’t hard to obtain.
Image Credit: AtomicZen
Fill-in-flash is used to light the actual subject when there is already a bright background. This way the subject won’t disappear into the background. Another helpful piece about fill-in-flashes is the ability to eliminate shadows that are made by facial features like under the nose, eyes or the chin.
Silhouettes are also another interesting way to use light. The way to create a silhouette is by lighting the subject from behind by a significant amount. This makes the camera read off the background instead of the main subject, causing it to be underexposed.
With these multiple options and ways to use lighting, anyone can add that extra something special to the photographs they take.
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