photography lighting as you find it

Find Solid Lighting for Your Photography Portraits

To find a beautiful natural light for your portrait subjects I recommend looking for shadows. Shadows are the hallmark of depth and dimension in two-dimensional renditions of our subject.

First, look for porches or overhangs that will remove the overhead light. Ideally, you’ll have a bright surface like concrete or sand or bright building reflecting the overhead light into the shadowed area. This situation works well because the larger the light source, the softer the shadow edge transitions will be. There is a magical place just under the portico that will yield very flattering light patterns. One way to discover the right spot is to hold up and examine the back of your hand and examine the shadows as you move your hand through the scene. This method allows you to see how the shadow-edge transitions will play out. If you have beautiful smooth hands with no ridges and alternative is to bend the middle finger down and watch the shadow as it falls on your palm.

read shadows imageFondly referred to as the reverse salute, the middle finger can show you how the shadows will look.

Once you have decided on the proper place for your subject, you then have the opportunity to set the lighting pattern by changing her angle to the light. By rotating your subject you have the ability to create the most flattering light whether that be broad light, split light or short light. Most times I will opt for short lighting as I feel that adds the most depth and interest to a portrait.

short light patternNote The light on camera right side is less wide than the shadow camera left

split light photo demonstratedNote the light and shadow are just about even in this image

broad light imageIn this image, most of the mask of the face is lit with just a soft shadow camera left. Note the slight ‘kicker light’ on her face on the camera left side.

This particular space was a bonus in that it was more of a tunnel with an opening on the other side which added a subtle separation light which adds more dimension to the photograph.

I was photographing this session as part of a job for the Sedona Meditation Center, which is now under the guidance of Ichibuko Todd (my fabulous model!) who has relocated here from Hawaii.

Images captured with the Lumix GH4 with 35-100mm f2.8 Vario Lens. Settings ISO 200 1/400th sec. f3.5 47mm (94mm in 35mm)

Yours in Creative Photography,        Bob

PS – If you want to have higher contrast with harder shadow edge transitions move your subject further away from the main light source.

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