Sunday, 30 January 2011

Diffused lighting the way to go!

So many times when we are on a shoot we only shoot the images under the correct lighting circumstances – that’s the job. But how do others learn: simply through other photographers showing examples. 

Diffused lighting is the way to go with so many subjects, not only portraiture. Into it we can add fill light and this can be done through many ways. As American photographer Arnold Newman once said to me, “Light, what is it? Whatever we can get our @$##%^ hands on girl.”

The following two images demonstrate very nicely how diffuse lighting allows us to get the lighting right in-camera – a great mantra here at Bluedog Photography.

A single light source is harsh. It produces severe shadows and often blown out highlights, that even if you shooting in RAW, are unrecoverable. Diffuse lighting on the other hand is the opposite: shadows are softened, highlights are reduced therefore decreasing the stops between shadows and highlights and a more correctly exposed image in-camera.

Think of the sun as your light source. On a day where the sky is blue, the sun bright and no clouds your single light source is the sun producing that harsh lighting and all its ugly side effects as in image 1.

Think of a cloudy day, the sun obscured by a blanket of clouds and you have your light source diffused: the rays of the sun are spread though the clouds and shadows are softened and the stops between highlights and shadows reduced as in image 2.

This lighting effect is easy to recreate under any circumstance you may wish to photograph. We can use a myriad of options. In the images below it was created simply by holding a reflector (silver/white with the white towards the model) above the model to spread the light from the source, which was the sun.

It’s easier to see why it’s better. Better in camera means a better final image, less anguish to bring detail into highlights which even in RAW is often unachievable, and it means us refining our craft as photographers. Gotta love that!
Image 1:
The sun on a bright day is a harsh light source.

Image 2:
A completely different image once the light source if diffused!

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