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Unveil the power of lighting in photography...

What is lighting in photography?

Lighting in photography is a fundamental element that shapes the way your images are captured and perceived. Using different types of light can create various effects and moods.

Understanding lighting is essential to taking your photos to the next level in terms of impact and story-telling.

Types of light

In photography, the two types of light used are either natural light or artificial light. From there, you can break it down further into other types such as hard light, soft light, and ambient light.

Each type of light has its own characteristics and can be manipulated or used to achieve specific effects and moods.

Mannequin head on chair with hard light on its face.
Hard light example
Mannequin head on chair with soft light on its face.
Soft light example

Lighting setups

Various lighting setups can be used to achieve different looks in your photos.

Common lighting setups include the three-point lighting which consists of a key light, backlight, and fill light.

Graphic of the three point lighting setup.
Three-point lighting setup

Lighting patterns

Lighting patterns are crucial to control the mood and focus in your image. Patterns like side lighting, split lighting, Rembrandt lighting, and loop lighting are particularly useful for portrait photography to change the mood and depth in your image.

Understanding lighting ratios is fundamental to understanding how the different lighting patterns work.

Girl wearing black hat and outfit in low-key lighting.
Portrait using 8:1 lighting ratio for low-key lighting

Lighting equpiment

As a photographer, you will most likely come across a various range of lighting equipment to manipulate and control light.

These items include softboxes, umbrellas, reflectors, gobos, scrims, speedlights and much more. Each piece of equipment serves a specific purpose.

Studio portrait using a softbox.
Using softbox in the studio

Time of day

The time of day is a critical factor in photography especially when shooting in natural light. Some times of day you should know as a photographer include Golden Hour, Blue Hour, and midday when there is harsh sunlight.

Woman holding fence during golden hour.
Portrait during Golden Hour
Woman standing with hair in her face during blue hour.
Portrait during Blue Hour

Lighting techniques

Mastering and knowing the various lighting techniques such as high key lighting, low-key lighting, subtractive lighting, and more will allow you to control your light and dramatically alter how your subject is perceived.

Man standing on beach with bodyboard in high-key lighting.
Portrait using high-key lighting
Scene from Joker movie.
Joker (movie) using low-key lighting

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