The Importance of Lighting

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This post was a contribution by Jalen Reed at Cast Ashore

Would photography even exist if it weren’t for light? No. Of course not. Lighting is so important when it comes to execution that we as artists need to pay close attention to. We’ve all heard of ‘The Golden Hour’, where the sun has begun to set and everything seems to glow. Cool shadows are cast, subjects come alive and even have more character. Photography otherwise, without good lighting, can be a pain to look at. When I think of good photography I think of texture, and that’s only achieved through the correct lighting. Sure! Appealing to one’s emotions might render a photo good, but the photographer somewhere down the line spends time making sure his or her subject was illuminated.

Now the sun, being so big yet far away, its able to light one entire side of the Earth. Now you take a small lamp and put it directly in front of the window of a large building, not only are you going to get a reflection but the light is only going to diffuse across that surface so far, in fact much less that it would if you were 10 feet away. The only issue now is that your subject and background will practically become one, due to less bright light.

When professional photographers are doing portraiture they usually use artificial light unless they are outside, and even still they might recreate light. What I mean by that is not necessarily using a large industrial lamp to light your subject, professionals will take that light and instead of shining it directly on you, they’ll simply shine the light towards an opaque, glossy surface that is in line with your face. Doing this broadens the light and makes it much softer.

Photography today is a booming field, and to stand out you’re gonna have to be an expert when it comes to things like exposure, contrast, white balance, and temperature.Are you using yellow or white light? Flash or no flash? These are all things to consider if when taking or editing a photo. Obviously, if you’re out there just for fun your first concern is to just capture the moment before it’s gone. But consider this. If you want the best photo quality, and don’t care so much about quantity,  I suggest you and light get to know one another well because it can be your best-friend or worst enemy depending on its source and how it’s used.


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