You will quickly improve your ability to create and recreate lighting effects you like if ﬁrst you take time to study natural light.
- The sun is the source of all daylight—sun in a clear sky casts one hard shadow opposite each object it hits.
- The angle and length of that shadow depends on the angle of the sun to the earth, as well as to the subject.
- When the sun is overhead, shadows are short; when it is low, shadows are long..
- When the sun hits the side of a subject, it reveals texture.
- Light that casts a hard shadow is technically known as “spectral” light.
- Hard light can be dramatic in effect, or it can be harsh, ugly.
- Any photo light with a metal reﬂector mimics the look of the sun in a clear sky, causing a hard shadow to fall behind whatever it hits.
- The angle, shape, size, and ﬁnish of metal reﬂectors behind lights, when aimed directly at a subject, all inﬂuence the “look” of the light.
- A “bare bulb”—a photo lamp, ﬂash, or strobe tube without a reﬂector—casts a soft shadow similar to the sun through thin clouds or mist.
- The sun ﬁltered through fog or cloud casts soft shadows or almost no shadows.
- Soft light, called “diffused” light, is easy to use, ﬂattering to most subjects.
- Totally shadowless light can be ﬂattering, or dull or drab, like the light of a heavily overcast day.
- The sun, when it “bounces” (or reﬂects) from a white wall onto a nearby subject in shadow creates a warm, ﬂattering, almost shadowless effect.
- Photographic light can also be softened by “bouncing”—reﬂecting—it.
- Bounced photographic light is always soft and is usually ﬂattering to people.
- Many accessories are made that diffuse and/or bounce photo lights—white umbrellas and collapsible white/silver reﬂectors are the most useful.