Add New Post Here

9 Lighting Types to Harness & Improve Your Photography

Forum Home >> Lighting Techniques Forum >> General Discussion
Author Message
Since 27 Oct, 2012
Accessed 6 years ago
9 Lighting Types to Harness & Improve Your Photography
Mon, 12/10/2012 - 16:33 (updated 6 years ago)

The right lighting can make or break an image setting the stage for others to see it as a snapshot or a photograph.

Icer Air photo by Jim M. Goldstein

Just as finding and seeing a subject is challenging, so too is finding lighting conducive to taking dramatic photographs. The Golden Hour is always referenced as a great time to take photos, but its not the only time to take photos with dramatic lighting. Training your eye to see dramatic light and the different variations of it takes some self-training.

Side Lighting

As you might expect Side Lighting is when the lighting is coming from the side. This usually provides a great deal of contrast, can create long shadows and adds depth to the image. This type of lighting can add a dramatic flare to architectural and portraiture photography.

Back Lighting

Back lighting is when light is behind your subject and is directed at you and your camera. This type of lighting creates silhouettes quiet easily. Combined with certain atmospheric conditions such as fog or airborne dust you can get dramatic lighting effects. Between You Me and the Trees photo by Jim M. Goldstein

 

 

Rim Lighting

When light comes in at an acute angle it can create highlights along the edges of your subject. The stark contrast that it provides highlights shape and form. This type of lighting adds impact to macro, wildlife, nature and fine art nude photography. Out of the Gloom 2 photo by Jim M. Goldstein

In Line, The Wave photo by Jim M. Goldstein

Ambient Light

Ambient light is non-direct soft lighting that often is bounced from one surface to another. As a result of the non-direct lighting, brightness of your subject is lower than with other types of lighting. In fact this type of lighting often tricks people the most as we seldom think about it consciously. Most photographers might just ignore it looking for other types of lighting. Ambient light works well for a variety of photographic genres particularly landscape photography.

 

Endless Color photo by Jim M. Goldstein

Soft or Diffuse Light

Soft light is diffuse providing lighting that is even. This type of lighting reduces contrast and minimizes shadows. Soft light is excellent for portraiture, macro, and nature photography.  

Hard Light

Hard light is quite direct and can often be intense in brightness. This type of lighting creates strong shadows and high contrast. Highlights can be quiet intense under Hard lighting conditions so special care should be made with ones exposure. Hard light can be stylistically applied to most any photographic genre, but for many eyes it can be less appealing than other types of lighting. Mavericks Big Wave Surf Competition photo by Jim M. Goldstein

Spotlight

Very simply Spot Light is when a focused amount of light highlights a particular section of your subject or scene. This type of lighting can create strong shadows and contrast. Spot light can add dramatic impact to all genres of photography. White Sands Monsoon Reflections II photo by Jim M. Goldstein

Icer Air photo by Jim M. Goldstein

Artificial Lighting

The most obvious type of lighting is Artificial lighting. This can be generated from a variety studio lights, and built in or external flash units. There are few genres of photography that Artificial lighting cannot be used successfully. Artificial lighting provides a lot of flexibiltiy and creative opportunities. If interested in learning more about artificial lighting techniques check out the Strobist web site.

Out of the Gloom 2 photo by Jim M. Goldstein

Various Combinations of Lighting

Lastly there is the combination of any or all of these types of lighting. There is no rule that states you have to live with just one form of lighting. Creatively lighting your subject is an integral part of the photographic process.

Now that these various types of lighting have been called out, as you look at photos you like or as you go out to take new photos, keep this information in the back of your mind. Ask yourself what is the lighting that makes this image I’m viewing or about to take so appealing? Study and learn the lighting and soon you’ll find this knowledge filtering into your work both consciously and unconsciously. Setting up and/or finding the right light will help you accentuate your subject and create images with greater impact.  

 

Comments

karim's picture
Nice article! Should low
Mon, 12/10/2012 - 16:35 Nice article! Should low light (Think: candles, street lamps) be added to this list? On another note as an aspiring photographer it would be interesting to know what camera settings (ISO, shutter speed, flash on/off, etc.) would be suitable for each of the lighting situations mentioned above. I realize that the desired end result will vary greatly from photographer to photographer, but I still wanted to see if there are any recommended settings. As a start, would it be possible to get the EXIF information for the pictures in the article? (Don’t see how to retrieve that in flickr).

Add Forum Comments

Login or Register to post authenticated comments

Add Anonymous Comment via social networks

updates Design Inspiration Daily Inspiration wallpaper Funny Images Art Magazine Photography Blog House Design Art Competition Design Contest & Festivals Photography Contest Free Website Photo manipulation Animation Contest and Festival Most Expensive Painting Portrait Painting Funny Drawings Salvador Dali Paintings Charcoal Drawing Rose Drawing How to Draw Animals Pencil Drawing Flower Drawings Picasso Paintings Digital Painting Mughal Paintings Watercolor Paintings 3D Drawings Bird Drawings Body Paintings Color Pencil Drawing MF Hussain Paintings Boris Vallejo Tamilnadu Paintings Animal Paintings Flower Paintings Metal Sculpture Caricature Street Art Oil Painting Fantasy Art Face Painting How to Draw a Face How to draw anime Wall Art Ideas Wall Sculptures Rajasthani Paintings Raja Ravi Varma Paintings Indian Paintings Types of Paintings Bird Paintings Tree Paintings Acrylic Painting Tanjore painting Wood Sculpture Amazing Drawing Drawing of Eyes Animal Drawings Leonardo Da Vinci Wall Painting Ideas Advertisement Corporate Identity Indian Wedding Photography Incredible India How to Start a Photography Business Couple Photography Fashion Photography Macro Photography Pregnancy Photography Different Types of Photography Famous Photographers Bird photography Best Photographers Digital Camera Review Nature Photography Kerala Wedding Photography Indian Wedding Photographer Amazing Photography Wedding Photographers Photo Editing Apps Photography Apps 3D App Graphic Design App Painting Apps Logo Design App Drawing App Free 3D Models Websites 3ds Max Tutorials 3D Animated TV Commercials Funny Cartoon Characters 3D Models Zbrush Models Game Characters 3D Girls Interior Design 3D Animation Short Films Valentines Day wallpaper Nature Wallpapers Flower wallpaper Christmas Wallpaper New Year Wallpaper Rain Wallpaper Diwali Wallpapers independence day wallpaper Raksha Bandhan Beach Wallpaper Ramadan Wallpapers 3D Wallpaper Mountain Wallpaper Republic Day Car Wallpapers Black Wallpaper Art Wallpaper friendship day greetings Ganesh Wallpaper Bridal Mehndi Designs Website Designers Free Stock Photos Rangoli Designs Christmas Greetings Free Photoshop Brushes Christmas Door decorating ideas Christmas Packaging New Year Messages Free Christmas Vectors Animation Schools Wood Carving Blouse Designs Corporate Brochure Design Print Advertisements Logo Design Ideas Mehndi Designs Tattoos New Year Greetings Diwali Greeting Cards Messages Diwali Greeting Cards Diwali Rangoli Designs for Diwali Free Brochure Templates Blender Models Top websites for designers Pookalam Logo Design Contest Onam Greetings Travel photography Advertising Resume Designs Custom Logo Design Services Motivational Quotes Top Website Design Companies Forced Perspective Photography Packaging Design Ramadan Greeting Manga business card template Beautiful Websites T Shirt Design Ideas Corporate Business Cards Animation schools in India Graphic Design Schools and Colleges Paper Sculpture Free Fonts Free wordpress themes Business card design Interior Design Schools in India Types of Animation Pongal Greetings Maternity photography Newborn Baby Photography Photo Collage Seo Company India Art Schools HDR Photography Brochure Design Ideas Free Drupal Themes Website Designers India Romantic Wedding Photography Baby Photography Black and White Photography What is Graphic Design Interior Design Schools Birthday Greetings Most Popular Websites Kolam Top Websites friendship day diwali messages Pongal Kolam Love Pictures Taj Mahal Animation Movies List Photoshop Layer Styles Photoshop Tutorials Surreal Paintings & Surreal Art Photo Retouching Typography Design Wildlife Photography Branding Creative Photography Peacock Photos