Lighting 101 - Know Your Lighting

Lighting 101 - Know Your Lighting

Natural

Portraits photographed with natural light are best on cloudy days and cast a wide range in scenery opportunity. Days when it might rain tend to be the best days to use strictly natural light. 

Pros:

  • Easy to photograph images at an instant
  • Virtually no setup time

Cons:

  • Dark circles under eyes

 

Fill Flash

Portraits photographed with fill flash are also best on cloudy days and cast a wide range in scenery opportunity. There is a little less mobility as you will always need to find a place to either put your light stand for off camera flash or keep close to your subject with on camera flash. (This image was shot with off camera flash) 

If your day is not cloudy, there is always the option to find some good shade.

Pros: 

  • No more dark circles
  • images "pop"

Cons: 

  • Setup time
  • Light stand placement

Ambient + Flash

Portraits photographed by balancing ambient & flash are a little more difficult to pull off. Your main issue will be balancing the color between each light source. In this image the flash is camera right with a small softbox pointed at the subject(s). 

How to: You will want to meter for the ambient light before turning on the flash. (meaning that the bright spots on your subject need to be perfectly lit) then its as simple as adding a little bit of flash to fill in the shadows. 

Pros: 

  • Balanced light

Cons: 

  • Setup time
  • Color balance

Backlit

Portraits photographed with back lighting or rear lighting can create some uniqueness to an image.  The light will come in and wrap around your subject creating a "glowing" effect. 

Pros: 

  • Amazing images

Cons: 

  • Lots of shade
  • Difficult to balance 

Ambient 

Portraits photographed with ambient light tend to request a lot of extra push from the camera to light the subject. The source of light in this image was just the reading lamp in front of the couple. The ISO was pushed and it has a shallow depth of field. 

Pros: Very natural feeling light

  • Easy to photograph images at an instant
  • Virtually no setup time

Cons: 

  • Grain
  • Light limitations

Flash

Portraits photographed with flash give the most control over lighting a subject. You can shape a flash any way you want wit h modifiers. It does however look artificial. To get a similar look to natural light would require a larger source of light at a greater distance. 

This image has a flash camera left with a small softbox aimed diagonally at the subject to get a "Rembrandt" look. 

Pros: 

  • Subject perfectly lit
  • Full control

Cons: 

  • Time consuming
  • Greater chance to miss a shot
  • Needs constant watch

There are many other unique ways to use light shaping to your advantage. There are endless possibilities with the combination of Natural & Artificial light sources.

"Majority of the images taken in this post with flash were done with Youngnuo brand flashes and radio triggers"