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Introduction to Lighting

A white egg lit up with a single light source

Look around, if you are not in absolute dark, there is light!

Now take any modern camera, put it in full auto mode and press the shutter! There’s a fair chance you’d get an image, perhaps even a decent looking one that you might feel good enough to upload to your Facebook page?

So what is this fuss about lighting, when light is so ubiquitous?

Let’s do something to figure this out. (Feel free to pull this image to your image editing software and try out what I’m suggesting here)

The image is that of a simple white egg!

Why is it an egg? Because it looks like one, isn’t it? It has a particular shape. The images depicts that for us!

Now drag it to photoshop, choose the brush tool, then click on a sample area of white for your brush to be white.

Now use the brush and paint the egg with the white you’ve sampled from the egg itself.

Do you see what happens to the shape?

Here’s the conclusion; the shape of the egg is revealed to us on a two dimensional plane by the TONAL VARIATION that is there on the two dimensional image.

The tonal variation is created by the difference in the amount of light.

Here is the same egg, with the same light source used from a very slightly different direction

Here are the two images side by side..

Notice the shadow at the tip of the egg on the left and how that shadow accentuates the shape and makes it more three dimensional..

This is what lighting is all about, controlling shadows and revealing the shape the way we want.

You HAVE to see what light does to an object before photographing it, irrespective of whether you are an outdoor (nature) photographer who uses the sun or a studio photographer who plays with artificial lights!

Over the next few articles of this series I will explain some key concepts of lighting and try to debunk some myths that are out there.


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