Lighting: Direction


Digital Photography 101


Lesson Info

Lighting: Direction

The direction of light can really affect the way your photographs look now this is something. When I first started out of photography, I just didn't I understand initially I just thought you just blast him with light and they're lit, right? That's it just put a lot of light on him, but they would end up looking kind of flat and there wouldn't be any dimension and people's faces. But when I was first learning, I just thought, oh, I got studio lights, light it up and that's sometimes what people do in the beginning just because they don't know yet about how they can really control the look with direction so direction of light is super important going to start with sidelight this is another friend of mine maria was very helpful and coming over to my house the other night I said, I need some light studies, could you, um so what I was doing was setting it up with the lights were going to be using later on and just positioning them in different places so you can see how the direction light w...

ill affect the look of a photo. So here I have the light it's over here on say, your left side of her face and it's lighting her from the side and what happens when you have sidelight, it creates dimension and form in your photograph so photography by nature is a two dimensional for rights flat but if you can add side lighting it creates three dimensions um almost it's not quite three d but it creates more dimension in form and your photo, for instance here's another example of lighting another friend of mine just with I had one of those big, round like lamps from one of the it was like here I don't know one of those stores and I just hung it up in the living room I was playing around with light and was just playing around different lighting patterns and and directions on a friend's face. You can kind of do this too it's a good idea to play around with light and hold it in different places and see how it falls across someone's face but sidelight it is great for outdoors to and the reason being is look at what's going on behind him and then look at his sweater and look at his face that side light is creating texture dimension that's why a lot of photographers that shoots landscapes that actually make money selling their landscape photos will only shoot early in the morning or late in the afternoon because the sun is low in the sky and it gives that sidelight which as you can see in the rock formation back there, I think this is kabo it gives it that form that shape and that's why sometimes if you're ever traveling about or just think oh and how pretty it is out there of the grass and the trees and sky click and you look at the picture later and it looks kind of just boring and sort of flat why does it look like those pictures of national geographic? Well it's because maybe weren't shooting at the right time of day, so get up either really early or this actually was a morning shot not as early as it probably could have been but if it were late afternoon shot same thing sun's lower in the sky nice sidelight so form and texture so think about sidelight whenever you're lighting something or having someone turning in the light that too you don't have to move the lights around you can just have whoever you're shooting kind of turn so here's not a great direction of light top lights okay, this is a cz if it's high noon and sons right on top of someone's head it's just not attractive under eye circles just not it's just it's not great it's it could be ok if you were using maybe some reflectors and other things to bounce that light around into the shadows but just looking at her face and her eyes are in the dark you could barely see a little light in her eyes and you know, it's a look now if it were under light than that would look like now halloween picture that maybe you want to use it for that, but that very top light, their underlying usually is not very attractive, so I'm not even going to show you another example of that. We're just going to move right on the front light because that is that pretty light. Um and we'll be doing this to when we're moving the lights around and shooting and front light is the lightest positioned just right in front of someone's face it could be down a little bit or up a little bit as faras height. I like to bring when I have a front light in front of someone's face bring it up a little bit because if you look at the shadows on her face, it brings in nice shadow and form beneath her cheekbones really helps those kind of pop outs. It creates nice sculpting of her face and also we've got kind of the shadow under the nose. It also creates a little darkness here under the chin, which you're shooting some people and they've got a little chin thing going on they don't want everyone to see, you know that's, another point of view of shooting with your camera to usually shooting from down below, and someone is not attractive so not only have your light source up a little bit above their eye line, but also you might have your camera position a little bit above their eye line two we're talking about beauty shots, so this is why they also call it beauty lighting is this just front light now that's using studio lights are official I just to show you the example but here's an example of using front light late in the afternoon now this family is just outside the sun is setting they're looking like almost right into the sun but because the sun is very low in the sky it's softer it's not as intense they can keep their eyes open and look at that all the nice, soft, even light on their faces just their front lit and you know the sun isn't higher in the sky, it's just pretty much right on the horizon or close to it and that's a great time to shoot if let's say it's a holiday like thanksgiving coming up for christmas or honaker whatever holiday you celebrate and you've got family and friends together and in winter the sun sets earlier in the day, right? So here's a great idea if you want to take a great shot of a group outside and beautiful light make everyone look fabulous if there is some sun that day, take him outside and just as the sun is setting having looked towards that light and you you're standing in front of them obviously not trying to cast a shadow on him so we have to do some positioning but that's just a really easy way to capture some beautiful shots of people and they're going to think you're such a fabulous photographer because if you can make people look great they instantly think your a great photographer so and that confidence is going to help you and being even more inspired and learning even mohr and getting better so I just you know, one great thing helps the other front light highly recommended ok back light you can also use this for effect and this is where your subjects back is actually towards the light source or in this case the sun so what this does is it pops them out of the background oftentimes it creates a nice little room light around them kind of threw the hair is an attractive look and a lot of times with headshots and portrait ce sometimes this is what photographers will will go for in the way that I set this up is I had a little girl outside in the park and the son could have been actually a little bit lower in the sky for my preference but it was what it was you know, sometimes you just have to shoot when you can shoot and her back is towards the sun and I think remember what we were talking about meet oring modes earlier today and meet a ring for the right spot in the scene measuring the light so I was using spy I think I was using either partial or spot meet oring where I just kind of meat oring letting the camera measure the light on her face so exposed properly for her face the backgrounds pretty bright but it's allowing me to have that nice room light on her hair and I think I might have also taken a reflector and stood in front of her because if the lights and back of her and it's actually hitting me in the face to is the photographer I can take the reflector and bounce that light back into her face so I might have done a little bit of that too and I could probably tell from just from looking at her eyes to that little catch light at the bottom ha so now you are lighting sleuths you can look at a picture and the catch light reflection someone's eyes and think how did they like that how did they make that picture that's going to help you think about how you can make your pictures too so I'm looking at that little just little scoop of reflection in her lower iris there and it looks like I had a reflector bouncing some light back into her face too so that's backlight and you can really use it to help pop, and I'm going to also play around with you when we start playing with studio lighting. This is my friend maria and she's sitting in front of a soft box, and we haven't gotten to those yet, but we will, and we're going to play around with this it's just a fun thing you can do now that shot here is just the set up shot. This isn't the shot, but if you can kind of detect what's going on behind her is an actual soft box light. So the lights actually right behind her so that's creating some nice backlight honor. And then I have another light if you can see above her head kind of coming down on her so that's that front light it's not quite top light, but it's sort of front light. And then she's holding this it looks like a black half circle in front of her that's a reflector. So we're going to try this when we when we shoot with the lights, but just I wanted you to kind of see how this shot was set up because sometimes you look at shots that were done in the studio, you think all there some magic? Formula to that I'll never be able to figure that out I can barely balance my checkbook I can't figure out math so it doesn't have to be that way you know you can just kind of eyeball something's as long as you know where to put the lights you can get some great shots so here's a shot I was able to capture just from that set up now because that soft box it's kind of small it's not huge soft box I had to really zoom in, you know, on the shot otherwise I would have had you know, the soft box you could see behind her the edges of it but I just zoomed in to capture the shot and it's really and it's like an attractive bright light shot and in photography will always noticed these trends that you see in the magazines or an advertising about you know what's the cool that what's the cool look that's going on now and and this has kind of been a nice, attractive look that's been out for a little while but is still considered fairly contemporary. So it's kind of a neat it's a neat way to create a different look in your photograph and this is what would be called a high key shot meaning it's it's bright it's cheery I mean if I were to create a photo and she was going to use this as her friendly business shot, or maybe her new facebook portrait. And, you know, she's got a vibrant, fun personality and everything that's really kind of shows that off, so you can really use lighting to bring out, you know, the mood that you want, and this is one of them remember, we started with that kind of moody lighting from the side and now it's like, wow, this is a totally different look because it's, I've got the backlight behind her so you can see it's kind of it's even coming around here and started sculpting her cheeks that way with light. And then I've got the light in front of her. Now look at the light in her eyes. What do you see to catch lights so that that top light is that life, that front light that I had kind of in front of her like that? And the bottom line is they're reflector. So now you can look at that and say, aha, now I know why she did that. I might try that. So here's another example of using back light in a photograph. This was much later in the afternoon, and this is jack and he was playing baseball, and I he was moving all over. Baseball field that day and I was just kind of sitting over the sidelines I had a longer lens on so I can kind of zoom in a little bit closer to the players and I just noticed, while the light falling upon him whenever especially in the wintertime, when the sun starts to set later in the day, I'm just I'm always noticing that's pretty light falling upon someone you know it's it's curving around them or or it's lighting up the back of him. So this is it's actually it's like backlight except he's facing that way but that's away from the camera so his his body is kind of towards that light, but he's looking back this way and it pops him out of the background, so just that's just something I did not construct? Obviously, I couldn't tell him hey, go sticking over there when they're playing a game, I just had to be observant and look to see where the lights falling so that's, really, what I want you to get out of this part is just really look at the light wherever you are and see how is it falling upon your subject? And where is it coming from? And we have a question in the chat room from firefly photo what if you have too much backlight and you have more than just one or two people I always end up having either an overexposed background or under exposed subjects with larger groups it sounds like yes so she has a group shot she's trying to do and the backgrounds really bright well in that instance I'm kind of like what I was talking about before you know our eyes can see a great tonal range of light from very dark very light and see a lot of detail in it but cameras really can't sew your pictures may and a kind of contrast see where the people are dark the backgrounds to light there are a few things you can do in that instance if you've got you know, big reflectors you can reflect that bright light back onto their faces maybe use a flash in that instance to brighten up their faces a little bit or sometimes you might want to like this picture right behind me that you see here this was taken at the beach and all the kids were jumping up in the air on and it was a bright, sunny like kind of misty foggy day you could still see detail with with your eyes but when I exposed for the people in this group the background just kind of went white but that's ok in this instance it was okay it's it really kind of depends on your scene you know and where you're shooting if you're trying to show the background then you need to expose for that and then put some more light on your subjects if you want to do something completely natural light like the print that you see back here then I would say just exposed for the people in that everything else just blow out white and it just overexposed and be no detail in the in the highlights that's what I would do here's another picture traveling in venice I just happen to like this guy on the left let's me on the right and it was late in the day and I was on another cruise and I brought a girl friend mine with me and she happens to be into into photography too, which is great because as you know, if you're the one that's really into photography oftentimes you're never in the picture right? Unless you're doing a selfie photograph or maybe doing a self timer photograph or hand in your camera to someone and then they often times don't frame you correctly I could pry teach a whole course on that on how to teach someone how to frame you correctly in two seconds you know but anyway back to the venice situation were walking along the streets of venice and I see this just beautiful, you know, light coming in from the side and I saw it just kind of on the wall there and I just said, hey, I'm gonna go stand right there and I knew that if I turned kind of like this and the light was coming that way that it would shine through my hair and really create a little more interest in the photograph and she captured the shot so and then also I just kind of noticed the light you know, sort of the rim light the backlight on him even though it's on his front but it's back of me popping the statue out of the background so you just kind of have to look for that light and you'll remember this photograph we saw earlier today and this is another example of backlight so you can really take advantage of how backlight can create a silhouette maybe you don't want to properly expose for whatever's in the in the foreground you want it to be a shape or you just wanted I just see a silhouette of something and that's ok too that's your artistic choice so again the cameras reflective white mater is just going to read the light in the scene and it's going to expose for the lightest part and in this case the sky was the lightest part and I also have some light reflecting on the water here's a fun shot I was down at the beach taking some sunset shots one evening and this light group of kids or down there playing guitar and dancing around and and I just wanted to experiment with different shutter speeds just just to capture movement and that's what was kind of cool about this? Because as I opened up my shutter mean took a used a slower shutter speed. It picked up that ambient light in the background that backlight exposed for that. And then the guys in the front we're kind of silhouettes, but because they were moving and it was a slow shutter, you get some blur which denotes movement which creatively I kind of like now if you were to look at this and go but that's blurry yes, it is, eh? So if I were going for a sharp shot than I would have asked them to stand still and I would have had my my camera just on the tripod and taking the shot that way but I wanted him to move around because to me this is what that moment um felt like here's. Another example of backlight and this is using an effect called lens flare and you can see what happens. Lens flare happens when it hits your lens and you get these little little funny light shapes and your picture and it's also kind of over exposed and they say, blown out where things look a lot lighter and brighter than they might have been, but that was the effect that I was going for now, um with lenses you've got like a dslr, they usually come with something called a lens hood, and this is for a couple different reasons why, when you put it on the lens, say, if I had this lens on the camera and I was shooting, you know, kind of into the light, the lights hitting my lens, I'm going to get a lens flare lense lawyer look like this this lens hood actually is to shade that light, so fine, light cub the lens pointed this way a little bit. If I had no lens hood, then the light might hit the lens and create that look if I didn't want it so that's, what lens hoods air for? But there are also good for just leading on your lands all the time because, you know, sometimes you carry your camera on a strap and it's dangling like this, and then you go boom into a wall or table or something. This little inexpensive lens hood is going to protect your expensive winds, so use lens hoods. They're highly recommended twenty way lens, flare back light kind of like it, you know, I meant to do this. No, really, I did. Sometimes they're happy accidents, though, you know, when you're looking at your pictures, later thinking ah you know I really messed up the shoot and then you look at your pictures on the computer that's a never judge everything just from your lcd screen look at it on your computer screen blow it up see what it really looks like and I you know, maybe your mistake turned into a happy accident then you can go back and recreate that because that's the key want to know how you created things so you can consistently recreate them because that gives you more artistic control I mean yeah it's great to frame this fabulous picture that you was a happy accident why not? But if you really want to learn and really create and feel more gratified about it then you need to know what it was that caused that effect so I meant to do that there is really quick yes, oprah photographer is asking do you alter your settings when you're intentionally trying to get lynn a lens flare? Well, I'm yes, sometimes I'll play around with the shutter speed just to make the picture or lighter or darker, but I'm still going to get you know, some at least in one part of the picture if I go back to that at least in one part of the shots would be a lot brighter because that's where the sun is but in this instance it just kind of made the whole thing have this sort of but actually, there was missed that day, so there was an atmospheric effect that was even creating more sort of white in the scene. But yes, sometimes I'll play with the shutter speed, so the position of the camera has more to do with lens flare than the settings in the camp. Yes, position of the campus of the lens so that it's, the lightning, the lens that creates the lens flare. And then when you have that lens flare, if he wanted to darken things up a little bit or lighting them up a little bit, you can play with your shutter speed or exposure compensation. You know you can play with that, too, and someone also asked firefly photo asked what makes a lens flare in the image that's on the wall with the girl with the hula hoop and this image now on the screen. Is there anything different? We're using a lens head in one and not in the other? Or was it just a little what's the difference between these two shots? I did not use a lens that on either one, because both of them I was intending to get lens flare the picture on the left, the girl on the hoo hoo! That was a time of day that I knew I had to get down low and shoot up. Because the sun was high in the sky. So if my son was going to hit the lens, I had to have it pointing towards the sun and no lens hood on that one on this one. It was a little bit later in the day, it was a different time of year to where the sun's lower in the sky, and and it was a different atmospheric condition, you know, that kind of was misty, sort of wintry fall in california and that's just sort of the unique part of that particular photograph. But it is always about, you know, just it's light bouncing and your lens is basically what it is. It's great. Thank you. Um, here's. Another way to use backlight and it's. Great when you're showing pictures of leaves or flowers or anything, you want to really make pop, because if I just took a picture of a plane, a leaf was no light coming through it it's kind of boring, you know you want to, like, make it look alive, make it look special, show off the lines and the little things going on in the leaves we might not normally see with our eyes because that's, what could really help create fabulous photographs are things you may not normally see with your eyes that the camera can capture because of your position or just the light it that one second that it was happening. So this is why it's so important to really be observing this light the quality of the light, and tried it for the most beneficial effect immediately, early in morning lately afternoon, you'll get some great great looks, but just as you're looking around, I mean, I was walking through the woods and just happened to see this light coming through and and it was softer light that's the other thing, if you shoot later in the day or early in the morning, the light softer, so it's not going to have that harsh contrast, and I don't have any lens flare in this picture because my my lens wasn't pointed directly into the sun, it was let's say, if the son, you know, it was coming from this way, kind of like from a lower angle, I see the light coming through the the leaf, but I'm standing maybe over here to the side capturing it, so I'm not getting the light hitting my lens, but I'm seeing the backlight through through the leaf, so really kind of look for this and, you know, bottles of lying were to come out on the veranda, having little glass of wine in the afternoon, and I just happened to notice the light shining through the glass and then also you might see light you know that's that's coming and you can tell where the sun is going to be and you can tell it's about to hit that bottle are about to hit that that plan you might sit and wait for that light toe happen so think about that because you're kind of moving through the day finding that light so actually before we move on really quick one kind of general question from tem in london could you maybe elaborate a little bit more on what the differences between hard and soft light on dh where you will use each one? I know you showed a couple of examples but just kind of mme or like what creates them and what situations you would want to use each one in? Well, let's say for instance, safer hard light I mean, normally I don't like to be shot in a hard light because I think it accentuates lumps and bumps and recalls, you know, things like that that I would want to be shut in heart hard light because I've got hard shadows and it's going to show kind of mohr imperfections but maybe you've got something where you really want to show that off maybe you're taking a portrait save someone that's one hundred two and they've got some amazing lines and wrinkles on their face you want to capture and maybe having some hard light come in from an angle, my really accentuate those or maybe it's, just the look and feel that you want to have it be very, um, almost abstract in a way to have lots of dark darks and light lights and your picture, whereas and just always look for the line in the shadow hard, light, hard shadow lines that so you can identify it on dh. Those are the kinds of pictures you might want to take. But I mean there's, all kinds of things you could do to get creative soft light is where there really is no delineation of, of the the edge of the shadow, it just kind of rolls in a rolls out very soft, and the light on someone if you're shooting, a portrait is usually soft and even and it's not too hard that people can, you know, they can keep their eyes open, you're not getting any under eye shadows, and imperfections tend to be diminished, especially depending on the direction of the light. So the more the lights in front ofyou, mohr, imperfections air diminished. And then if you place the light up, you know you can get the shadows under the cheekbones, things like that, and also it's it's, good to know where to stand in different types of light so you can look better not only you know your subjects that you're shooting, but you know, if you're standing somewhere like if I see ah hard overhead light at a party, I am not going to go stand under that light because I know I'm not gonna look att I'm going to go stand next to the soft light that's you know, candlelight or maybe a big quite wall where lights bouncing off the big white wall and turning it into a bigger light source and looking nice and soft on me so that's where all go stand but I will not go sand under hard lives, you know, hard, light. A lot of those things you want to avoid is a seinfeld episode where there's the same person like looked beautiful and gorgeous in one situation and terrible in another and it's that sort of thing. Yeah, I remember that up, so it is so true because it is all about the light that's what you see pictures of people and think like hud, I know they're better looking than that, but it's just like they happen to be in the wrong light for the photograph oh that's, why you can really do a lot tio affect the beauty of it people in places and things just by the light that you choose so, it's, good to know. You know what it is and that's a good question. Yes, thank you for elaborate on that. We really appreciate yes, any time, because it is all about the light.

Class Description

Are you ready to start taking amazing digital images? Join award-winning photographer Erin Manning for a three-day introduction to the fundamentals of digital photography — frustration-free.

Whether you take pictures with your phone, a point-and-shoot digital camera, or a DSLR, Erin will give you the tools you need to capture beautiful digital images. You’ll learn about light and exposure, including how to work with and modify your on-camera flash. You’ll learn about common errors beginning photographers make and develop strategies for troubleshooting. Erin will also guide you through the basics of digital image editing and sharing your images online.

By the end of Digital Photography 101, you’ll have the creative and practical skills to create, edit, and share stunning digital images.



Good basic or "refresher" course.