Basics of Photographyby Christopher Haslego
nderstanding light is one of the very basic principles of learning to be a photographer. When you have a group of people in front of you with smiling faces ready for you to say 'cheese' or if you are taking a shot of a scenic area, the most important consideration is the light factor. Light controls the type of exposure and therefore the quality of the photo is dependent on the quality of the light on your subject and the amount of light that impacts on the film or digital sensor when you click. Controlling the amount of light is a good pre-occupation in the mind of a photographer keen to get a good shot. It should be one of the key considerations.
The word 'exposure' is a very important word in the lexicon of both amateur and professional photographers and is based on the understanding of light in creating good photographs.
- If there is too much light, the photo will look overly bright and over exposed.
- A happy group of people will not look as vibrant if there was inadequate light when you took the picture.
- Bright sunlight can create shadows under the eyes.
- Poor lighting may not bring out the colors in the scene to maximum effect.
There are a few basics that you can apply to circumvent poor picture quality due to unfavorable light conditions:
- Change the position from which you take the shot.
- Change the light if clicking indoors.
- Use the flash.
The use of the flash can be a boon when you operate in different light conditions. If you have an overcast sky, the flash in your camera will serve the purpose of letting some light into the image that you are trying to capture and brightening it up. The flash also works to your advantage when your subject is not too close but slightly away from you. But you have to check the 'flash range' of your camera in your manual. The flash works best when your subject is within a recommended range that is usually at least 4 ft and generally not more than 10 ft.
Most simple cameras have an automatic flash. Slightly better models will have settings for fill-flash. The concept of fill flash revolves around filling light in areas of a picture that may turn out dark or shadowed. Fill-flash has the ability to balance the amount of light on different parts of a subject to ensure that the exposure is adequately bright. For instance, a portion of a person's face may appear shadowed and the fill-flash setting can help iron out this problem.
The angle of light is another important consideration. You have to pay attention to the direction from which light falls on your subject and there are several approaches in manipulating the angle of light to improve the visual appeal of a picture.
- Sideways lighting: Light from the side is used to creates depth in the picture and is considered one of the best ways to use light if you are taking a portrait photograph.
- Light from the top: This is a method used to brighten up most of the scene but does not work as well when you take a photograph of a person. It tends to create shadows on the lower half of the face when the lighting is high.
- Light from behind your subject: This strategy is sometimes used by photographers to amplify the impact of the picture. It can create a halo like effect; it can add artistic shadows and can also create a striking contrast between the subject and the background if used effectively. When you use a 'back light' it is recommended that the fill-flash settings on your camera are also adjusted in order to avoid shadows in your photograph.
Continue to Page 2, Basics of Photography: Aesthetics