You'll be surprised by this one simple lighting trick!

June 16, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

You'll be surprised by this one simple lighting trick!

Working out the best direction to shoot from to make the most of the light

Photography is all about making the most of your surroundings and your light source. When shooting with natural light you can't change what you've got so you've got to know how to use it. Shooting at different angles can make similar images completely different!

When I'm setting myself up to take photos I will first look to see where the sun is, this is important as it makes a massive difference to the style of the image that you end up with!

The rule of shooting with natural light is that you should be shooting at 45 degrees to the sun, this would leave you with just enough shadow that your subject has enough contrast but not too much. When taking portraits of people or animals it is always good to aim to have one dominant eye, when you have your subject at 45 degrees to the sun it would mean that the side closest to the sun would be the dominant eye.

As with all photography rules, they are made to be broken if you're looking for a different style to your image.

Before we start let's cover a few words that we shall be discussing throughout this post:

  • Bleeding - When light spills around a subject or light is reflected off another surface
  • Flat - When an image has little to no definition provided by a lack of contrast
  • Burnt out - When the camera records colours that are near white as true white leaving no definition

Enough with the description, lets see how much the angle changes the photo! I have chosen to photograph Dylan on the same rock and move around the rock, showing you front lit, side lit and back lit. You might be quite astounded at the difference!

Front Lit

This first image is lit almost straight on, it leave us with both sides of Dylan's face well lit. As we're not able to place a dominant eye by the angle of the light we have been able to do this by having him look slightly off centre. The side that we see the most of is therefore the most dominant side.

Light Direction - Front litLight Direction - Front lit

45 Degrees Side Lit

This is the perfect amount of light and shade to give us enough definition for Dylan's portrait to really pop. This one is my favourite, I hope you'll agree!

Light Direction 45 degrees Side litLight Direction 45 degrees Side lit

110 Degrees Side Lit

This photo is becoming more and more back lit, as you can see the majority of Dylan is in shade. This means to be able to correctly expose Dylan we loose some definition in the background, it begins to become burnt out. You'll also notice that Dylan looks flatter due to the lack of contrast.

Light Direction 110 Degrees Side LitLight Direction 110 Degrees Side Lit

Back Lit

This image is completely back lit, meaning that the sun is directly behind Dylan. As you'll see we've lost most of the definition of the background. We also have some bleeding occur around the edge of Dylan where the light is spilling around. Dylan himself now appears to be very flat in the image. For this set up I would not recommend using a back lighting for your subject, but it can be really good for silhouettes or occasions where you wish to create a halo effect.

Light Direction Back LitLight Direction Back Lit

So, there you have it...

To get a great picture what you really need to do is get off your bum and move to the best possible spot! So remember to pack full length trousers and decent shoes as this could be in the stinging nettles or bushes! Simple really.

If you're not sure when to use or break this rule come and ask in our Facebook group.

Emma Elliott Photography - Pet PortraitsJoin us on Facebook!

If you're not sure you can get to grips with it on your own, don't forget we do offer training as well!

TrainingTraining
Happy Shooting!


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