Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Direction and Quality of Light

I was going to start writing my articles on flash today, but I thought that as a prologue, I would first talk about the quality and direction of light.

Light, in my mind, has two characteristics. Direction and Quality. Light can surround you almost perfectly even from every direction, or it can stream harshly from one direction. It can be soft or it can be harsh. It can have these traits whether you are using natural light or creating the light with flash (this is why this article came first).

Light can be soft, harsh, directional or enveloping. I've grabbed some examples from my latest wedding to illustrate and show you how I use the different light qualities.

Natural, soft window light streaming in the door. I chose to backlight the dress so that the light would shine through it.

This was taken with available light in the room. This was less of a conscious choice and more of grabbing a moment with the current equipment.

I placed Kellie near the window to get the soft, very directional light on her face.

Available light in the chapel.

As the ring bearer and flower girl were walking down the aisle, I was luck enough to capture the harsh, directional light of Grandma's flash, which backlit them beautifully.

Again, using the available light (actually more available darkness). The alter was lit, but the rest of the room had only candles for illumination causing the couple to be severely backlit.

The soft, enveloping lighting of a bounced flash.

This image is the result of two flashes. One on a lightstand creating the main exposure and backlighting the couple, and one on camera at one stop below the exposure to illuminate the near side of the couple.

This image is during the college fight song, with the off-camera flash creating the main exposure (and harsh directional lighting) and the on-camera at one stop below filling in the shadows and making the effect less harsh.

The final image of David's fist-pump is again the soft, enveloping, directional (from the right and above) light of bounce flash.


Greg Moss said...

Some really good examples of lighting, I look forward to your articles on flash photography.

digital album design company said...

I love the amount of details you gave in your instructions through this post. Great examples. Looking forward to more from you.

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