See the Light
Have you guys heard that phrase before? Seeing the light? If you really examine the photos from the Pro Photographers that you love, you're going to notice that they all have beautiful lighting. You're going to see a bit of shadow on one side of the face, while most of the face is illuminated by the light:
IMG_2561-2editweb1 by Stephanie.Miller, on Flickr
Proper lighting isn't just reserved for studio lights. You also need to pay attention to the lighting conditions when you're shooting with natural light. So, let's get a grasp on directional light.
Do you all know about catchlights? That is the light that you see in your subjects eyes. It's always been said that you want the catchlights to be at the 10 o'clock or 2 o'clock position in the eye. For so long, I never knew the reason why, or how to accomplish that. That little bit of information confused me so much, that I pretty much gave up, and just tried what I could to get the light in the eyes, not worrying about the position of it. Usually the light was just all across the top of the eyes.
The reason behind the placement of the catchlights is so you can get directional light on your subject. But, the way that I like to think about directional light is by paying attention to the shadows on the face instead. So much easier for me to see the direction of the light when thinking about it this way.
So, how do we do this? We're going to do a little exercise in order to help you understand how to get this directional light on your subject. We're going to set up camp in your garage. The garage is a very controlled environment that will help you understand where to place your subject. (If you don't have a garage, just PM me, and we'll set something up somewhere else) Don't worry about your background. If your garage is a total mess (like mine!), all you need is a small area cleared out near the garage door. Enough room for yourself and your subject.
1. For your first shot, I want your back to the opening of the garage, with your subject facing you (their face to the door). Line up as straight on to the door as you can and take the photo. This will create an image with very flat lighting.
2. Rotate your subject about 45 degrees to the left. Stand directly in front of your subject and take the picture. You will start to see some beautiful shadowing on the left side of their face.
3. Rotate your subject even more to the left so that they are at a 90 degree angle to the door. Stand directly in front of them (your back should be to the side wall of the garage) and take the picture. Half of their face will be in shadow while the other half is lit.
4. Repeat steps 2 & 3, but to the right. You will see the same results, only on the opposite side of the face.
If I confused you, here's my go on the garage light test on my blog: Shutterbug Stroll: Garage Light Test
Share your results here, and we will discuss further
Okay, I *kind of* see the difference, but I will be honest- I think that they all look pretty good. LOL. My eyes are not as discerning as they should be.
Maybe I will see a big difference when I actually do the assignment though (early next week, I'd imagine). Thanks, Steph.
~ jess ~
Just pay attention to those shadows on the side of the face. I'll admit that my "flat lit" one on the blog isn't incredibly flat lit. There is still a bit of shadow on the left side of his face (camera right) because he was pretty uncooperative when I did the test and kept moving his head. It was as close to flatly lit as I could get with him
One thing that you can do to eliminate distractions is to convert it to black and white. B&W's NEED directional light (or lots of lights and darks in general) in order to work. Just look at the one in your avatar, Jess. It works so well because of the great direction you have with the light that is hitting him. A flatly lit b&w just turns out grey and with pretty much no contrast. There's so much more depth to a b&w with directional light.
Can I duct tape my subject in place? Maybe I can talk my 13 year old to doing it with me...
* Amanda *
With the hurricane affecting the weather in much of the US and parts of Canada I imagine this will be a difficult one. Here it is just and cold, but nothing horrible, i'm wondering can this it done with overcast skies?
* Amanda *
I was kind of wondering the same thing... just in general. Our garage doesn't get much sun period, even on sunny days. Our front yard is all shade. I will have to check it out when it's not raining to see if any sun peeks in at all.
~ jess ~
Jess, another Ohioian here! What part are you in? I'm NE and it's not looking too promising for sunshine ANY day this week. :/
Drake (9 )