Friday, March 6, 2009

Thinking about Light

You will quickly improve your ability to create and recreate lighting effects you like if first you take time to study natural light.

Hard 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.

Soft Light

  • 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.

Important Lighting Safety Information

  • Never be afraid of using photo-graphic lights, but always treat all of them with respect.
  • Always read and follow lighting manufacturers’ safety and operating instructions.

  • Never run more than 1,200 watts total of lighting equipment off one modern AC power circuit.

  • Never plug any lights or strobe power packs into AC power outlets where appliances that heat are on the same circuit.

  • If your hotlights or power packs trip a household circuit breaker or blow a fuse, immediately turn off the lights or strobe packs before resetting. Then reduce wattage demand on the AC circuit, or split lights or packs between two or more circuits.

  • Always use cotton gloves to touch glass, to prolong lamp and tube life. Never use frayed or damaged power cords or extension cords.

  • Never use any lighting equipment where it’s wet.

  • Be aware that all photo lamps and tubes can burn fingers. Let them cool before packing.

  • Never touch a tungsten lamp (bulb) or strobe tube while the equipment is turned on.

  • Allow twenty minutes’ cooling time before changing or packing lamps or tubes.

  • Never allow children or animals to be left unattended near lights.

  • When photographing kids or animals under lights, be sure a parent or baby minder or animal handler is on the “set.”

  • Warn adults that they must never touch lights, cords, or equipment.

  • For maximum safety, use sturdy light stands. Extend stands from the bottom up. Make sure all stand sections are locked before adding lights or strobe heads.

  • Weight tall stands at the bottom. “Booms”—light stands with an arm that extends to hang light over the set—require counterweights to keep them from tipping.

  • Light cords must reach the bottom of stands and lie flat on the floor to reach the AC outlet—use extension cords if needed.

  • For maximum safety, tape power cords to the bottom of stands and to the studio floor with electricians’ “gaffer tape.”

  • Refer to these safety suggestions, and others in the body of the book, until they are second nature to you.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Composition 10 tips

When framing a shot, pay as much attention to the background as you do your subject. A complimentary background can enhance a mundane subject- a poor choice of background will make a great subject fall flat.

2-Keep It Simple
The strongest compositions are ones that get their message across quickly. Look for the building block of a great photograph in line and shapes.

3-Personalise It
Ask yourself what you're drawn to in a scene-the height of a building, the patterns in a field, the shape of a flower-and bring that element out.

4-Watch The Cropping
When you're framing people, avoid chopping them off at the knees or ankles.

5-Think About Numbers
Odd numbers of things tend to be visually more exciting than even amounts. Triangles are more dynamic than squares or rectangles, which echo the boundries of the frame. Three's the magic number...

6-Raise your Aspirations
Tell yourself that you're going to take the best photograph you've ever taken when you get up in the morning. This can lead to disappointment in the short term-in the long term, you'll definitely raise your game.

7-Study The Masters
We've given you a taster of three masters of their craft in this book-take time to search out the cream of contemporary and classis photography (keep an eye on digital camera)

8-Avoid Cliches
Don't be happy with simply imitating other photo you've seen. Think about using different lenses, treatments and viewpoints. Don't be afraid to lie down in the mud or sand. Be determined to create something more artistic than you wew producing a year ago.

9-Shoot Plenty Of Frames
Really work a subject-you're first shot is rarely your best one and you're not wasting film anymore. Work through early framing option to chisel your vision and weed out the duff ideas.

10-Always Carry A Camera With You
The more you shoot-family, friends, daily life-the more you'll begin to refine your eye for composition. Then, when a once-in-a-lifetime situation presents itself, framing it quickly will be second nature.