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How to Find Good Light

Lesson 2 from: Lighting and Posing for Wedding Photographers

Caroline Tran

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Lesson Info

2. How to Find Good Light

Lesson Info

How to Find Good Light

Let's jump into lighting. So I think light can turn any ordinary into the extraordinary, right? So an example here. The image you see right here was taken at high noon and the image here was taken during golden hour. Now, I think they are both good images because I know how to shoot in high noon light, but you can see the difference, right? This one, you have pretty much everything is very, I guess, even, as opposed to this one, I think there's a lot more dimension. I think they both evoke very different feelings and so I think that's the power of what lighting can do to an image. It changes the mood. And I think that's why, like, for housing, home decor, or environments, why lighting is so important 'cause the lighting really sets the mood. Here's another example. Same exact location shot mid day, shot closer to the end of the day. So this one you have a very evenly lit portrait. You can see all the bamboo. The models, the bamboo, it's all lit the same. This one, there's a little bit ...

more haziness, right? The light's coming through the bamboo so there's more dimension and depth to it. But I think they're both good images, they just set a different mood so it depends on what mood you're looking for. But I think that's why it's important to understand lighting because the lighting will change the mood of the photo. So what mood are you going for? So with that, the first step I do anytime I walk into a room is I look around. I have to know where, the first step you should do whenever you walk into a set is identify your light source. Where is the light coming from? So in this room specifically, where is the light coming from? All these gorgeous windows here, right? But it's important to know where the light is coming from because one, that sets the direction of the light, and also where you can place your subjects. Then once you know where the light's coming from, it's important to see what color the light is. For example, you might have cooler light or you might have warmer light and then it's also important to know what color light might be reflecting back as a result. So for example, when I go to shoots, although I love color, I don't wear color when I'm shooting. If I'm shooting in a tight room, I wear white because I wanna make sure that when I'm up close to my subject that I'm reflecting white light back on them, or at weddings I wear black, and that way I just don't reflect any light. But have any of you worn orange or, I wear orange a lot, so. It's not a good idea 'cause when you walk up close to your subjects there's suddenly this orange light coming back on to their face and it makes editing a nightmare after. So if you can, watch out for any color that you're reflecting back on them but also what color of lights is being reflected around your environment. So for example, a lot of people will wanna shoot on grass but what they don't realize is the grass is putting this green color cast right back up on the people. So it makes editing little bit trickier. And then there might be a colored wall, you know, so if you're shooting around brick, so for example, if this side was brick, then you would be getting a lot of reddish light coming back, but luckily it's all neutral. And then lastly, notice how the light and shadow is working, and we'll go more in depth in a bit but depending on how the light's coming in, how close your subject to it, how big the light is, it matters on how quickly it falls from shadow into light. So even if you're looking at my face, my nose is casting a shadow on my face. So it's how gradual does that happen? Does it happen really fast where you're getting hard lines? Or is it like a gradual fade and what is the look you're going for? Are you going for like a really edgy look with hard shadows or are you going for something that's more soft? Or do you even want shadows? There's a few things that you have to know, but basically just fundamental behavior of light. Light will travel in a straight line. So if you think, this window is just shooting straight lights out at you. Light does not bend unless it's reflected back. It's like a physics lesson, I love this. But for example, with this column here, the light is not able to get past that column. So if you're standing behind the column, so if you think about this, the light is coming out like this right now. So if you were where Kenna is, the light is not directly coming on at her, but luckily there's a ton of light being reflected all around, right? But you will be brighter if you are in front of the window versus if you were off to the side of the window. And then the other thing is the bigger the source of light the softer it is. So if you're looking for soft portraiture, you want a big light source as opposed to a small, on camera flash. For example, that's why it's so harsh 'cause it's a small source. So make note of how big that light source is. There are ways you can make it bigger, for example, by either diffusing it or reflecting it back. So the bigger that surface is that you're using to diffuse or reflect it will become a bigger light source and will soften up the light for you. And I'm saying soft a lot because I think in wedding photography specifically, people generally are looking for soft lighting, soft, romantic lighting. And then the other thing is the closer you are, the brighter the light is. Any of you guys heard of the inverse square law? So basically if you, like from where I am to the window, if I double the distance right now, I actually will get four times less light, not half, it's four times less light. So the point that you just have to know is light will fall off really quickly. The further away you get from the source, you're gonna lose a lot of light, so just make sure you're conscious of that and then your exposure is also changing.

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Ratings and Reviews


I had such a great experience at Creative Live. Everyone was super nice. I flew from Los Angeles to Seattle for the first time and Mariangela was kind enough to help me with transportation, hotel, restaurants, things to do in Seattle. It was a fun continue education trip. Caroline Tran's class was amazing! I can't wait to go back for another class at Creative Live.


Enjoyed the class! Especially liked seeing how Caroline transitioned and shot the engagement shoot with the cute couple. The pick up points were great, love the analogy to piano since I'm pianist as well. I use her refined presets too and really like the outcome :) Would recommend that as well!

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