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Studio Lighting - Carteret Community College

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Basic Lighting
A New Appreciation for the
Both in the Studio and on Location
The Nature of Light
All light has certain qualities, whether it comes directly from the sun, already exists in a room, or is
brought into the room by the photographer.
The light used, whether it be sun, photoflood, or flash is not as important as what that light is
doing to the subject.
Electromagnetic Spectrum-Visible Light- Color begins with and is derived from light. Where there is
little light, there is little color; where the light is strong, the color is likely to be intense. Every ray
of light coming from the sun is composed of rays that vibrate at different speeds. The sensation of
color is aroused in the human mind by the way our sense of vision responds to the different wavelengths
of light that affect it.
Light is the primary catalyst for creating a mood in a photograph.
By mastering the photographic applications of light the
photographer can control the viewer's visual response to his image.
Effective Use of Light
Proper use of light can help the photographer convey a variety of
different emotions. Harsh relationships between light and dark
values communicate a feeling of mystery and drama to an image.
A more subtle lighting ratio may convey a feeling of peace and
tranquility . High Key lighting is ethereal and glamorous where as
direct light is harsh and abrasive.
Flash Calibrations
We learned the capabilities of our flash and the Inverse Square Law.
As light travels it dissipates, weakens and spreads out - therefore you
must compensate through exposure and/or flash to subject distance.
Three Types of Light
There are three basic types of light used in the studio.
Each one communicates a different mood.
Direct Light
Hard Light (Tungsten) - Snoot - Bare Bulb - Barn Doors
Direct (side)light will enhance the texture of your subject.
Diffused Light
Umbrella - Soft Box - White Cards - Mylar
Diffused light fills in shadows of the subject and is less harsh and abrasive.
Diffused light from above (soft box) will enhance the 3-D quality of
the subject (gradation)
Reflected Light
Specula fill - Silver/Gold Cards - Mirrors - Reflectors
Help emphasize specific parts of the subject and also fill
shadows and lower light ratio.
Direct or Diffused light from behind will emphasize the
shape of the subject!
Lighting Theory
Texture = Side Light
Shape = Back Light
Form/Weight/3D = Top (Gradation)+Side
Concept Dictates Lighting!!!
Previsualization is the catalyst for exposure
determination and positioning and direction of the light.
Painting with Light!
Put the shutter on BULB and
start popping strobes, flashes
sparklers or flashlights…
See what happens…
Love those Light Ratio’s
Relationship between Main and Fill Light
1•1 = 0 stop difference
2•1 = 1 stop difference
4•1 = 2 stop difference
8•1 = 3 stop difference
16•1 = 4 stop difference
Main & Fill Side of Subject
Portraits and Posing
The photographer must learn some basic poses and remember YOU
are in charge of the portrait session - gain rapport with your model
and DIRECT him/her into the pose you want them to be in.
Broad / Short / Butterfly
When setting up for a portrait remember to build your lighting set-up one light at a time so you
can see the effect on your subject. Use a 3:1 or 4:1 Ratio / The subjects head is often positioned
at a slight angle to the camera--turned just enough to hide one ear. When using short or narrow
lighting place the main light on the side of the face away from the camera. This is the most
common lighting, used with oval faces as well as to thin down a round face.
When the side of the face turned towards the camera is illuminated by the main light you
have a broad lighting set-up. This type of lighting tends to widen the facial features so it is
used mainly with thin or narrow faces. With butterfly or glamour lighting the main light is
placed high directly in front of the face. Position the main light high enough to create
symmetrical shadows under the nose but not so high that the upper lip or the eye sockets are
excessively shadowed.
High Key Lighting
2 Stop difference between light on background and subject!
Make sure light on backdrop is even with 2 tenths of stop.
Rim & Rembrandt Lighting
Back light towards subject (rim) and inverted triangle on fill side of face under eye (rembrandt)
Outdoor Rim
This assignment was hard!
You need some LUCK
on this one!
Direct sun (10-2) behind subject - meter the bright sky!
Styrofoam Ball
If you can photograph a white ball on a white background and hold
texture and highlight detail and keep the balls white you can shoot
any still life.
Eggs, Eggs and more Eggs!
How Creative can you BE???
Was this assignment FUN or what??
“Some of the BEST Egg Projects Yet”
Synchro Sun Lighting
Balance sunlight (main) with strobe light (fill) - must balance ambient and
strobe reading to achieve desired light ratio’s.
The critique is where the learning comes full circle. We come together,
share the work, discuss photographic technique’s addressed and
demonstrated in the assignment and grow from the dialogue and
constructive feedback. Must learn to be critical of our own work!
Field Trips...
Learning to
see the
It’s all about seeing...
Whether you are shooting in the studio or on location it is important
to develop a heightened awareness (sensitivity) to the LIGHT. Ask
yourself…what is it doing to my subject and how do I expose for
it to in order to achieve my previsualized results.
New Awareness of the Light
A Heightened Awareness of LIGHT will make you a better
photographer and enable you to MAKE pictures instead of
TAKE Pictures.
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