How the Direction of Lighting and Shadows Affects Your Photography

How the Direction of Lighting and Shadows Affects Your Photography

Photography Lighting Direction

The lighting direction has a major effect on the overall look and feel of a photograph. Use these techniques and remember where the light is in relation to you and your subject when you take the shot and your images will always benefit.

Most beginner photographers are told that they should always keep the sun at their back. This method certainly has some advantages ‘” colors are saturated, your subject is evenly illuminated, and the scene is crisp and clear.

This simple lighting technique also has some downsides. Photographs of people in bright conditions, for instance, can lead to them squinting from having to look into the sun. Also, this type of lighting causes shadows to fall away from the camera, often completely out of the frame. This results in photographs that can look flat and two-dimensional.

Side lighting

One simple solution is to turn 90 degrees when preparing to take your photograph. Have the sun coming in from the side. This method immediately opens many creative possibilities: instead of flat and featureless scenes, there are now dynamic and exciting highlights and shadows. Your images look three-dimensional again! You can now add depth and other effects to your photography. Objects in the foreground are independent of the background, allowing shadows to fall to the side and emphasize distance. Using side lighting techniques also reveals texture that any other kind of lighting methods will hide. The “raking” light that you see late in the afternoon on a sunny day is one stunning example. Unfortunately, these advantageous lighting situations do not last very long. A skilled photographer will need to work quickly to take advantage of these tricks.

Dramatic character portraits can also be produced using side lighting in your photography. Be aware that this trick is less suitable for more flattering pictures of your subject because it will reveal every flaw. However, 90-degree lighting can be a problem when it comes to the proper exposure methods. The contrast level will very high, leading to a risk of either under- or over-exposure in your image. The success of your photography will greatly depend upon where the highlights and shadows are in the frame.

Overhead Lighting

Of lighting methods available to the photographer, top lighting should usually be avoided. This is the lighting condition you see at noon on a sunny day in summer, when the sun is at its highest. Such conditions make short shadows that point downward and tend to clump into dense blobs. It is best avoided. Be particularly careful when shooting portraits, your images can end up with dark areas under the eyes, nose, and chin using this lighting. Professional photographers avoid taking pictures between 10am and 2pm on sunny days in summer. Follow their example!

Into The Light

Shooting toward the sun can give a dramatic photographic effect when used correctly. The subtle hairs on plants are clearly revealed, a gleaming halo is will appear around your subject when shooting portraits , normally dull scenes come to life as shadows suddenly race toward you, and transparent subjects start to glow beautifully . The effect you get depends on how you expose the shot. In these lighting conditions, you will be unable to capture the full lighting range in your photograph. You will either need to make sure there is shadow detail by using a high key effect to burn out the highlights or you expose for the lighter areas of the image and get a stunning silhouette result.

Lens flare can be a major problem in your photograph when shooting into the sun. This effect is caused by stray light entering your camera lens; patches and streaks across your images result. Lighting contrast is reduced and color is washed out. To avoid camera lens flare, you need to shade your camera lens so that no light glances across the front lens ‘”a good lens hood will often take care of this and is not too much of an investment in terms of cost. This tip will greatly improve your photography results