Do You Know About Lighting?

@hcromer (2710)
United States
August 31, 2008 3:11pm CST
The biggest obstacle in photography that I have seen thus far is lighting. With the classes that I've taken and the books that I have read, I haven't gotten any straight forward knowledge about lighting. I know that on camera flash usually makes people look horrible, but other than that I'm left in the dark [pun intended]. Do you use lighting for your photography? Where did you learn about lighting? Can you give me some advice and/or links to websites that contain a lot of information? Are there "must have" items for lighting that you could suggest to me? I keep searching on the internet and coming up pretty empty handed.
2 people like this
6 responses
@trickiwoo (2702)
• United States
31 Aug 08
I mostly shoot outdoors, so I try and use natural lighting as much as possible! For shooting outdoors (especially outdoor portraits!!!!) a reflector is a must! It is great for using as a shade to block "hot spots" on your subject caused by the sunlight! It can also be used to bounce lighting onto your subject! Also, when shooting outdoors, it's good to take advantage of the "golden hour"- which the hour before and after sunset and sunrise. This is the optimal time for taking photos as the lighting isn't very intense so you won't get a lot of hot spots and harsh shadows. As for shooting indoors, a good flash can go a long ways! I'd recommend getting an external shoe mount flash. These flashes have movable, tiltable, rotatable heads so that you can bounce the flash so it's not directly hitting the subject the way on-camera flashes do. This will help prevent that "horrible" look you get from flashes. These flashes can also attach to your camera, or can be set up to get flash hitting your subject from different angles. So those 2 items would be on my list of must-have lighting for all photographers- a reflector and a shoe mount flash. Some studio lighting might be a good idea if you take a lot of indoor photos. You may want to check out the lighting section on Adorama.com.
• United States
1 Sep 08
You are right to say that lighting is the biggest obstacle in photography but it's also the greatest tool!! In fact Photography IS light. A camera, No matter how precise or how simple, is still no more than a light trap. I am what is called a natural light photographer. I usually take photos outdoors, (nature and buildings) so I have to know when the light is right and be in the right place at the right time. I want to know the angles of the sun at different times of the year and sometimes the proper light can come and go in the time it takes to find a spot to park and get out of my truck. Usually in that order. Indoor photography can also be done with natural light from a door or a window. If you look at the shadows it will tell you more than anything else. One of the best ways to light for a portrait is sitting next to a window with a reflector on the other side to soften the shadows. Knowing how to read the meter is also very important. I couldn't even scratch the surface here on using the meter. Even a built in meter reading should only be taken as a starting point. You may need to make adjustments for light and dark subjects. An EXcellent book for understanding exposure (the term that covers all of these subjects, And they are all connected) Is "Perfect Exposure" By Jim Zuckerman. Another is "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan F. Peterson. I own the first and get the second one from the public library. Anything by Zuckerman is great. A great website for lighting on a budget is http://strobist.blogspot.com/ there is enough info there to keep you busy for a long time. But I think the best way to learn is to read a bit, go out and shoot. Then read some more and try to figure out what you did wrong. That's my method anyway. Kinda like self guided trial and error.
• United States
1 Sep 08
And speaking of strobist...I have been looking at this guy's work. It is absolutely amazing!! and when you see the simple lighting setup he uses to make these images it's even more so!! http://www.flickr.com/photos/birdist/sets/72157606498827934/ And the article from strobist is at http://strobist.blogspot.com/2008/08/art-on-wing-bradford-fullers-fly-in.html The guys name is Bradford Fuller.
@bobmnu (8160)
• United States
1 Sep 08
After you have read your books I would suggest trial and error along with lots of expermenting. I have use the flash with a defuser to take shots in the sun. The flash eleminates the shadows on the faces. It is also great for night shots if you use the night mode on your camera. The flash can even brighten up a cloudy day and give you sharper colors and better contrast. Try lots of different things and have fun.
@pyewacket (44032)
• United States
1 Sep 08
Night Shot At Disneyworld - image of Cinderella's Castle at night
Well first of all I'm still a 35mm FILM user (rare breed here)--naturally I hope to get a good digital camera one day ...BUT...to be honest I've never, ever used flash when photographing. Outdoors is no big deal in the daytime for getting good shots..my blessing in away was that my very first 35mm camera, a Kalimar given to me as a present from my mother wasn't exactly the best camera...but then she didn't know a thing about cameras. The pain of it, was that it didn't have a true through the lens metering system...instead it had a selenium cell meter on TOP of the camera...So one had to read the exposure on top of the camera unlike true through the lens systems were you could see the exposure while viewing the scene you wanted to photograph. So...with that obstacle, I memorized the exposure chart Kodak used to give with it's film on indoor lighting techniques....in other words even indoor shots I used only available light...and in some cases that was a necessity, since often I would want to photograph art objects in a museum where flash is forbidden anyway...naturally I would use high speed film like an ISO of 400 for indoor shots like that. After awhile I got so expert at it I could just kind of "read" the exposure myself and say photograph at f./2.0 at 1/30th or 1/60th of a second. I even found by available light know how could do great night shots. However, for many of my indoor "studio" type shots I used tungsten type lighting equipment...usually one light on either side of the subject, and maybe a third pointed up to the ceiling for a more diffused bounce light effect...one would have to use tungsten type film of course which is a "cooler" temperature rated film as opposed to regular daylight film --I would imagine digital has settings for what type of lighting situation, right?? As for the camera I use now...after sometime with that Kalimar, I got a Nikon camera (film) in 1977...it's the one I still use! And yup, works...LOL as for where I learned photo lighting...self-taught.. Here's one of my favorite night shots I took years ago from Disneyworld
@snowy22315 (101850)
• United States
31 Aug 08
I dont know about lighting personally, but I'm sure there are websites that could help you with that. We saw some beautiful city scapes of Pittsburgh when we at an evening baseball game on Friday. My husbnad took some photos with some high speed film but I dont know if they will turn out or not because I dont know if the lighting was proper.