A Studio Photographer Beginner’s Guide: Three Essential Lighting Tips & Tricks
As any studio photographer can attest, few factors are more important in making portraits stand out than lighting.With studio photography, there are several lighting variables to consider. These can include things like time of day, subject placement, or flash settings.
Getting the right portrait results from your studio photography requires control of light and shadows.When used creatively, the right lighting techniques will provide flattering and breathtaking images.
Ready to make your portraits stand out? Let’s guide you through three essential studio lighting tips that can apply to your photography today.
1. Consider the light source
Like most types of photography, light sources in studio photography fall into three categories:natural light, artificial light, and a combination of the two. We examine both natural and artificial light in further detail below.
The difference between natural and artificial lighting
Natural light, also known as available light, generally refers to sunlight although it can also refer to ambient light. Factors that can influence the impact of natural light include time of day, camera positioning, and specific weather conditions.
Artificial light is the main light source used in many studio portraits. There are several types of artificial light sources, but they can be categorized as strobe or continuous lighting. Unlike natural lighting, artificial lighting can be fully manipulated and controlled.
Using both light sources
Both play an important role in enhancing the illumination in the scene and filling in shadows. Natural and artificial light can both serve as sources of hard or soft light. Your subject matter will often determine the softness or hardness of the light.
Portraits generally benefit from soft light as it is more flattering. Those looking to create a dramatic effect on their image can cast a hard light on their subject.
Experimentation is key to determining the right light source for the subject at hand.
2. Understand the Kelvin scale
To achieve consistent results with your studio photography, having the proper white balance is a must.
This requires understanding the Kelvin scale. The Kelvin (K) scale is a unit of measurement for temperature. In photography, this refers to the color temperature of light sources.
Shooting in Kelvin
Most color temperatures in photographs range from 2000K to 9000K. The lower end of the Kelvin scale will cast a warm tone (2000K – 4500K) like that found in candlelight. Higher temperatures (6000K – 9000K) emit cooler tones, akin to shooting after dusk.
Your shooting conditionswill determine whether it’s best to use a cooler or warmer Kelvin number. The cooler your shooting conditions (think dusk), the warmer your Kelvin tones should be, and vice versa.
To avoid unrealistic color casts on your images, take the time to practice shooting in Kelvin.Knowing how the Kelvin scale influences the end result will enable you to have full control of your images’ white balance.
3. Position your lights wisely
Two elements that greatly influence your image’s composition are position and angle. Different positions and angles will generate different effects.Where you position and angle your light source will have an overall impact on the final image.
Achieve the desired look with positioning
Front lightingbrings out the details of your subject, but can cause a flat or boring image.
Side lighting,where the light hits your subject from the side can create interesting shadows and depth.
Back lightingis the most intriguing, creating a halo effect and images that glow.
A word of caution with back lighting:Backlit scenarios are the most difficult light-modifying techniques to accomplish. Beginners without a complete understanding of manual mode will produce images with an undesirable silhouette effect.
These photo shoot lighting setup techniques can be further enhanced by moving the subject and the camera. Experimentation is key. Use different lighting positions togetherto create different effects and moods with your studio photography.
Over to you
While there are more lighting secrets that can improve your studio photography, the three lighting techniques highlighted are simple and easy to implement at your next shoot.Try each lighting tip individually or together.
Experiment and you may discover a light bulb moment that leads to a great idea, resulting in unique, eye-catching images.
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