Painting with Light

October 15, 2014  •  1 Comment

There is an expression or quote that I have read and heard that I think about more and more. The quote is "Photography is painting with light."

No matter how much I think I know my strobes, speedlights, or natural light, I always think that there is more to learn. so I keep experimenting. How strong do I want my strobe? How strong do I want my backlight or hairlight? I know there are certain standards when it comes to your main light and accent light. What I have been taught that your accent light should not be as strong as your main light. It could maybe be a stop down or maybe 2 stops down from your main light. I have heard another expression or quote that says, "Know the rules first, and then you can break them." I believe I have read this when it came to posing, yet I think you can do this for lighting to a certain extent. I call it being creative. I have seen portraits where the hairlights were stonger than the main light (meaning the main light is the one towards the face).

When I take pictures in my studio, sometimes I use just a main light and a reflector. Sometimes, I add a backlight or hairlight. I happened to use a main light and a hairlight on Brad and Lily. I study my pictures quite a bit. I thought the hairlight was fine for Lily but a little strong for Brad. So there should be a happy medium somewhere when there is darker hair and lighter hair. I guess that would probably a matter of opinion. Then I thought I should have added a reflector as a fill light for the shadows. In the picture, I did edit to balance the highlights and shadows more. My goal was a warm cozy look, not a dramatic look.

So painting with light is so true with photography. How you use the light or lights is what is pleasing to you. Therefore, you are showing people your own personal style.


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