Beginner Guide to Photography Lighting



Natural lighting vs Flashgun


Natural light, which comes from the sun and moon, changes with the time of day and the weather. You can experiment with light by going out and shooting at different times of the day to watch how your photographs change. How do the image's tones change?


In some cases, artificial light may be required, and the camera flash is the most obvious technique available to the photographer. Simply told, you can utilise it to get a nice exposure in low-light situations.


A direct flash, on the other hand, is frequently excessive and burns off details. You can reduce this by bouncing the flash off another surface, such as a wall or ceiling.


Lighting position


The effects of directed lighting can be demonstrated with a single light or flash. Set up your light source on one side of your subject with some simple things — fruit, or bowls. After then, move it around the topic to see how the highlights and shadows change.


Shadows may give an image a more three-dimensional appearance and make it more dramatic. If you're shooting a person, experiment with shifting your light source to see what happens to the detailing and tones on the face. To view the tones more clearly, convert your image to black and white and compare your results to full-colour images of the same topic.


  • The detail is brought out by front lighting or situating the subject so that the light is directly in front of the person or item. Why? The shadows fall behind the object with the light right in front, therefore there are no shadows in the image to hide any information. Front lighting is the easiest to shoot, although it might look flat or monotonous at times.

  • By producing shadows and depth, side lighting combats the dull look of front lighting. Side lighting is still rather straightforward to shoot; all you have to do is pay attention to how the shadows fall. Even slight modifications can influence how the shadows fall. When photographing using side lighting, pay attention to where the shadows fall; little changes in the subject's stance might result in more intriguing or appealing shadows.


  • Backlighting is the most difficult to master, so continue with caution. You'll wind up with a silhouette if you don't use a light modulator or know how to use manual mode. Backlighting settings, such as placing the subject directly in front of a window, are best avoided by beginners. But don't neglect it for too long; once you've mastered manual mode, backlighting may provide stunning results. Many items, such as leaves and flowers, appear to glow when backlit. Portraits benefit from backlighting, which creates a halo appearance.


Soft vs Hard light


'Soft' or 'hard' lighting can be used in photography. The image will be more contrast with hard light, which will reduce the midtones. Soft light reduces contrast and expands the spectrum of midtones, creating a warm, reflecting atmosphere.



Reflectors & Diffusers


A white surface returns light to the source, while a black surface absorbs it. Reflectors are commonly used to reflect light back onto a subject to show more detail or balance contrast throughout a picture, both inside and outdoors. Reflectors come in a variety of hues; read our guide: What are Reflectors Used for in Photography for additional information on each type.


Diffusers are used to disperse the beam more widely and lessen the intensity of a light source, such as a flash, strobe, or video light. They're also excellent for lighting glass while avoiding reflections.



Lighting techniques


1) High Key A high key style creates a brightly lighted image with minimal or no visible shadows by combining two or more light sources. It's commonly employed in commercial photography to produce bright, breezy photographs with plenty of detail.


High key photography is a technique for reducing or entirely eliminating dark shadows in a picture by using very strong lighting. The high key aesthetic is often regarded to be pleasant and happy since it lacks gloomy tones.




2) Three-points

A key light, a fill light, and a backlight are used in three-point lighting. This provides the photographer a great deal of light and shadow control.


Three-point lighting is an old technique for illuminating a subject in a scene using light sources coming from three different directions. Key light, fill light, and backlight are the three forms of lighting. The key light In the three-point lighting configuration, this is the primary and strongest light source.





3) Broad & Short

Portrait photography. When you use broad lighting, you illuminate the side of the face closest to the camera. The side of the face furthest from the camera is lit by short lighting.


When you position your portrait such that the brighter side of the model's face is closer to the camera, you're using broad light. In low-light situations, the darker side of your model's face is closest to the camera.





4) Rim

Backlighting with rim light is a form of backlighting. It may be created using artificial light or natural light such as the sun.


The backlight illuminates the margins of your subject in this configuration, leaving hairs and the extreme edge of your subject lighted. It is quite good at separating your topic from the backdrop.



5) Split

Split lighting is used in portraiture to generate a beautiful half-lit, half-shadow look on a face by placing the light source side-on. Split lighting is frequently utilised in portrait photography to create a dramatic impact. Actors and models favour these photographs because they evoke a feeling of mystery and artistic expression.




6) Backlighting

Backlighting occurs when a subject is lit from behind. It's possible to make silhouettes or semi-silhouettes with it. Silhouetting can be remedied by adding a fill light. It's a portrait photography method in which the main light source is situated immediately behind the subject who is facing the camera. The person diffuses the light from behind, resulting in a stunning glow.




7) Rembrandt

Rembrandt lighting is a type of portrait lighting. It requires a side key light positioned to generate a little triangle of light beneath the eye on the cheekbone on the far side of the face, and is named for the renowned painter.


In studio portrait photography and filmmaking, Rembrandt lighting is a typical lighting method. It is popular because it is capable of produce photographs that look both natural and captivating with a minimum of equipment. It may be created with one light and a reflector, or two lamps.




8) Butterfly

To create a butterfly light effect, position your light in front of the face and shine it down. This generates a characteristic 'butterfly' shadow behind the subject's nose, highlighting facial features like cheekbones.