3 Basic Tricks for Using the Light in Your Advantage for Great Photos

Each image fits a certain light.
But mostly its about your creativity and decision upon the “right” light.

The following tips are a short guide line everyone should know before starting to experiment its own creativity concerning lighting in photography.

The light I’m talking about refers to the light on the subject, not the light referred to the photographer position.
For better understanding how a photographer refers to the light I have made the diagram bellow.


Trick 1, when Dealing with Front Light and Above Light

Every photography beginner is used to take pictures of front illuminated subject, when the sun is actually above you, offering uniform natural light. The shadows are minimal because of the plane light, mostly in midday (therefore, its a better choice to use the morning light or evening light). For nature photography, front light has advantages and disadvantages, but mostly, if it is not the morning light or the evening one, the picture will be without dynamism or dimension. However, some nice stuff can be done with the appliance of polarization filters.

Wrong front light Better front light

Sometimes this plane light results in a lack of details. In case of flash used, the persons face is fully illuminated so that those details that make the subject unique are lost because there are no shadows.

Wrong front light Better fron

Front light is ideal for architecture photography, where the details of buildings must and can be illuminated.

front light

In conclusion: the trick is to use polarization filters or stay off the midday light and shoot in the morning or evening.

Trick 2, when Dealing with Back Light

With back light you can obtain excellent results as long as this light is correctly used in the purpose of creating a dynamic frame. With this type of light it is hard to work because you must take care of possible lens flare, long exposure times and composition of the shadows. The subject will appear as a shadow surrounded by light.

back light back light

Its a good idea to first use the “Program” (P) shooting mode to look at the settings the camera chooses for the most critical area, and then turn the camera into “Manual” (M) mode to take the shot with the settings program mode told you to use.
Looks simple at the first glance, but there is a risk for the subject to be correctly exposed but the background not (a washed out background). In this case I have some solutions. Or you can try creating a HDR.

HDR Example:

In conclusion: the trick is to use the back light to create a frame of light that will surround the subject.

Trick 3, when Dealing with Lateral Light

Lateral Light is a light that allows you to put a higher accent on the 3D forms of the object. This kind of light is provided by the sun during the morning and evening, when light creates shadows on the subject. It is probably the mostly used lighting choice and also the simplest one. I don’t really think there could possibly be a wrong example of the lateral light use (but everything is possible).

lateral light lateral light

If you make pictures in the studio, the problem is more complex. Professional photographers sometimes use shade cloth and reflectors to block down light while directing available lateral light to enhance their subject and achieve their desired effect.
You can even experiment with low lateral light to obtain pictures full of mystery and very emotive.
lateral light

In conclusion the trick is to position yourself from the subject in that way that you can use the lateral light. Just obtain the lateral light and you can’t be wrong!

[tags]lateral light, front light, back light, light in photography[/tags]

By Laura

I started photography as a hobby in 2005, during college. My passion slowly became a more important part of my life since 2008. Because of using a combination of my photographic knowledge, with those of internet marketing, I like to call myself a "photomarketer".

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