Lighting Blackon Black Scenes

Black-on-black scenes require special attention to exposure to record as much detail as possible. However, increasing the exposure of a black-on-black scene works only if there are no secondary white subjects in danger of overexposure. Even without any white subjects, increased exposure of a black-on-black scene sometimes does not look right, even if it records more detail than a normal exposure. Although good exposure is essential, it is not enough. The manipulation of exposure and of lighting...

Exposing Blackon Black Scenes

The section on the characteristic curve pointed out the compression of gray steps in both the shadow and the highlight steps. This happens whenever we shoot a JPEG, and it happens whenever we convert an image from Raw to any other conventional format. We also saw why overexposure exaggerates this problem in white-on-white scenes and why underexposure exaggerates it in black-on-black scenes. The problem is somewhat worse in the shadow steps as a result of digital noise. These random, minute...

Letting the Strobe Determine the Exposure

Automatic strobes read the light reflected from the subject, then quickly turn themselves off when they think they have seen enough light to expose the film properly. Several manufacturers offer automatic strobes specifically designed for use with particular camera brands. These dedicated units tend to maximize the ability of the camera and strobe to work together. One of the most important features that dedicated strobes offer is the option to use through-the-lens metering. In addition to ease...

Turning Ordinary Direct Reflection into Polarized Reflection

Photographers often prefer that a reflection be polarized reflection so that they can manage it with a polarizing filter mounted on their camera lens. If the reflection is not glare, the polarizer on the lens will have no effect except to add neutral density. However, placing a polarizing filter over the light source will turn a direct reflection into polarized reflection. A polarizer on the camera lens can then manage the reflection nicely. Polarized light sources are not restricted to studio...

Combining Studio and Environmental Light

Sometimes environmental light has a beauty totally unexpected because it's nothing we would be able to do in the studio. Quite often, in those same cases, the environmental light is not adequate, by itself, to make a good picture. We'll finish this chapter with a couple of examples. Both are of craftsmen in their shops. In Figure 8.34 there was a very large, high window that some photographers would be tempted to use as a main light. Instead, Steven Biver realized that this could be the biggest...

The Glossy

In Chapter 4 we saw that good lighting requires distinguishing between diffuse and direct reflection and making an informed decision about which we are going to use. Everything we said about lighting a simple, flat surface applies equally to the group of surfaces that makes a three-dimensional object. In this chapter we have discussed perspective distortion, light direction, and light size. These all determine whether the camera can see a light source within the family of angles that produces...

The Contrast of a Photograph

The contrast of the light is only one of the influences on the contrast of a photograph. If you are an experienced photographer, you know that you can find high contrast in an image with low-contrast light and vice versa. Contrast is also determined by subject matter composition, exposure, and development. Everyone knows a scene that includes black and white subjects is likely to have more contrast than one with entirely gray objects but a software Levels or Curves adjustment can produce high...

Feathering the Light

Feathering a light means aiming it so that part of the beam illuminates the foreground and another part lights the background. Figure 10.6 shows how this technique can be used. Notice that the strongest rays of light are emitted from the center of the strobe head. If the strobe is held at the proper 10.6 Feathering the strobe light. The success of this technique depends greatly on the design of the strobe reflector. angle, these will illuminate the rear of the scene. The light rays that spill...

Low Key Lighting

Large, prominent areas of dark are characteristic of low-key lighting. Pictures made with this kind of lighting tend to be somber serious, formal, and dignified in mood. Low-key lighting requires more side and back lighting. Front lighting does not produce enough shadow area to keep the key low. Most of the examples that you have seen so far in this chapter were made with fairly low-key lighting. We did this because it is easier to see the effect of each light in a multiple-light setup using...

Is It Polarized Reflection or Ordinary Direct Reflection

Polarized and unpolarized direct reflections often have similar appearance. Photographers, out of need or curiosity, may want to distinguish one from the other. We know that direct reflection appears as bright as the light source, whereas polarized direct reflection appears dimmer. However, brightness alone will not tell us which is which. Remember that real subjects produce a mixture of reflection types. A surface that seems to have polarized reflection may actually have weak direct, plus some...

Controlling the Effective Size of the Light

In previous chapters, we have seen that control over the size of the light source is one of the most powerful manipulative tools a photographer has. We have also seen that the physical size does not necessarily determine the effective size. Moving a light closer to the subject makes it behave like a larger one, softening the shadows and, for some subjects, enlarging the highlights. Moving the light farther away does the opposite. This principle is even more significant if the subject is bright...

Increasing Polarized Reflection

Most photographers know that polarizers can eliminate polarized reflection they do not want, but in some scenes we may like the polarized reflection and want even more of it. In such cases we can use the polarizer to effectively increase the polarized. We do this by rotating the polarizing filter 90 degrees from the orientation that reduces reflection. The polarized light then passes through easily. It is important to understand that a polarizer always blocks some unpolarized light. By doing...

Try a Polarizer

If the direct reflection is polarized, a lens polarizing filter will get rid of it. We suggested this as one of the first remedies to try for the competing surfaces in the last chapter. 5.25 Using a long lens sometimes helps get rid of unwanted reflections. Comparing the more distant viewpoint in this diagram with that in Figure 5.20 shows that the farther we move the camera, the smaller the family of angles gets. If, however, the subject is a glossy box, we more often save the polarizer as a...

The Perfect Curve

The characteristics curve is a way to compare two grayscales one representing exposure steps in the scene and the other representing brightness values in the recorded image. Note that when we talk about characteristic curves, exposure means something slightly different than when we talk about making a picture. Photographers shooting pictures talk about exposure as if the whole image received a single uniform exposure for example, f 8 at 1 60 second. Exposure used this way is convenient...

Calculating the Guide Number

In this particular case, the subject is standing 10 feet from the strobe and the photographer is using a camera with an ISO rating set to 100. Here's how we determine the guide number 1. Measure the distance to the subject. Adjust the camera position to make the distance an easy number to use, such as 3 feet or 3 meters, not 9 feet, 4 inches. 2. Shoot several pictures, varying the aperture, then pick the exposure you like best. Note that aperture. In this example it is f 8 yours could be...

In Any Case Keep the Background Small

We have explained why direct reflections are usually not very important to white subjects. The few we see are generally helpful to add a bit of dimension, but compared with the diffuse reflections, they tend to be too weak to be major players in the lighting event. The exception to this is direct reflection on the edge of the subject. Direct reflection in those areas is especially likely to make the subject disappear against the white background. To make matters worse, the white backgrounds in...

Lights Of Different Colors

Photographers in the studio carefully control the color temperature of their light. All lights usually have the same color balance. Adding other lights with gels or lights of another type is a deliberate attempt to alter the color, not a whim or an accident. 10.7 Holding the strobe too low causes distracting shadows on the wall. Photographers working on location may not be able to carefully control the color temperature of the light. The existing light in the scene often does not match any...

Metal Boxes

A metal box presents the viewer with up to three visible sides. Each side needs a treatment similar to that of any other flat piece of metal. Each surface has its own family of angles to consider. The difference is that each family of angles faces a difference direction and we have to deal with them all at once. In lighting a metal box, we need to deal with some of the same considerations involved with lighting a glossy box made of any other material. (If you are browsing through this book...

Keeping the Metal Bright

Because photographers usually choose to make the metal in their pictures look bright, we will deal with that case first. If we assume that we want the entire surface of the metal to photograph brightly, we then need a light source that at least fills the family of angles that produces direct reflection. Note that because polished metal produces almost no diffuse reflection, light coming from any other angle will have practically no effect on the metal, regardless of how bright it is or how long...

Using a Translucent White Background

If the shape of the subject is very flat, there is no way to shadow it without doing the same to the background on which it sits. One good solution to this problem is to use a translucent background that can be lit from behind. White acrylic is good for this purpose. As long as the subject is reasonably opaque, we can light the background to whatever brightness we please without affecting the subject. Figure 9.17 shows the lighting diagram. Figure 9.18 applies this technique. The subject is...

Light Size

What made the difference between the two portraits Why were the shadows hard and unpleasant in one and soft and flattering in the other The answer is simple and familiar light size. The first portrait was made with a single small, bare bulb. 8.3 The softer shadows in this picture are the result of a larger light source. These shadows define the features of the subject and add depth. As we have seen, such small sources of light produce hard, sharply defined shadows. The second picture was made...

Rim Lights

Some photographers use rim lights to illuminate the edges of the subject. Rim lighting is often a combination of hair lights and kickers so similar to the arrangements described in the preceding sections that it makes no difference which terms we use to describe the lights. However, one variation on rim lighting is different from anything we have seen. This technique places the light directly behind the subject in a position similar to that of a background light but aims the light at the...

Eliminate Direct Reflection from the Box Sides

It is relatively simple to get rid of most of the direct reflection from the top of a glossy box. Things get more difficult when we start trying to eliminate it from the sides. In Figure 5.23 we have turned the box top on edge to show an exaggerated example of the problem that can occur on the sides of the box. From most viewpoints, the box reflects the background on which it sits, and we cannot eliminate that part of the background 5.23 Here we see the results of moving the bank light forward....

Calculating the Exposure

The quickest way to calculate an exposure using a flash is by using a guide number. You may find the guide number in the literature that comes with the flash, but you should never trust the manufacturer. They are not exactly dishonest, but they generally calculate their guide numbers under the most ideal circumstances that rarely apply to the work real photographers have to do. Instead, calculate it yourself. This requires only grade-school arithmetic, takes only a few minutes, and is...

Multiple Strobes

Several portable strobes together produce as much light as, but allow more flexibility than, a single studio strobe. We can use them separately as a multiple-light setup, as larger lights might be used in the studio, or we can group them as a cluster to behave as a single, very powerful strobe. In either case, only one strobe needs to be triggered by a synch cord attached to the camera. Instead of synch cords, the others are usually equipped with light-sensitive triggers called slaves. This...

Light Versus Lighting

We have talked about the brightness, color, and contrast of light. These are all of the important characteristics of light. However, we have said very little about lighting. Indeed, the little we have said about lighting has more to do with the absence of light, the shadows, than with the light itself. Shadow is the part of the scene that the light does not strike. Highlight is the area illuminated. We want to talk about highlight, but we are not quite ready for it. If you look at the two...

Transmission

Light that passes through the subject, as in Figure 2.10, is said to be transmitted. Clean air and clear glass are examples of common materials that transmit light. 2.10 Transmitted light. Clear glass and clean air are common materials that transmit visible light well. Showing you a photograph of transmitted light would be useless. A subject that only transmits the light cannot be seen. The subject that does not alter the light in some way is invisible. Of the three basic interactions between...

Left Side Right Side

Photographers generally prefer to put the main light on the same side as the subject's dominant eye, or the eye that appears to be more open than the other. The greater the visible dominance of the eye, the more important it is that we light that side. Of course, some people have very symmetrical features then it makes no difference on which side we put the main light. The other influence on our decision is where the person's hair is parted. Lighting on the same side as the part prevents...

What Else Do I Need To Know To Use This Book

We assume you know basic photography. You know how to determine a reasonable exposure, at least close enough that bracketing can cover errors. You understand depth of field. You have mastered the mechanical operation of your camera. That is all. We have no intention of being ruthless in our examination of your background credentials. Just to be safe, however, we suggest you keep a good basic photography book on hand when you read this one. (We did when we wrote it.) We do not want you to find...

Key Triangle Too Low Main Light Too High

Regardless of whether the eyes are the window to the soul, they are certainly essential to almost any portrait. Keeping the eyes of the subject in shadow can be unsettling to anyone looking at the portrait. Figure 8.8 illustrates this problem. Notice how the strong eye shadow eliminates the top of the key triangle and produces an unnatural and ghoulish picture. This shadow is there because we positioned our light too high above the head of the subject. Fixing the problem simply means lowering...

What Lighting Equipment Do I Need

We expect you to ask this question, so we have a precise and definitive answer ready. We do not want to leave out any details, so this will be another two-part answer 1. No photographer has enough lighting equipment to do every assignment as well as possible. No matter how much lighting equipment you have, there will be times when you want more. Suppose, for example, you can illuminate a large set to shoot at f 180 in 1 1000 second. (Please call the fire department before turning on this...

Glossy Background

If the metal is on a glossy surface, it is possible to have the light source in the image area without the camera seeing it We call this technique invisible light. Here is how it works look back at Figure 6.21, but this time assume the subject is sitting on a glossy black acrylic sheet. The family of angles defined by the front surface tells us that the only possible place from which the metal could get light would be from the black plastic surface, but black is a short way of saying that the...

Broad Lighting or Short Lighting

So far we have made all pictures with the model approximately facing the camera. Whether the light was on the right or the left would have made only a minor difference. However, the difference is major if the subject turns his or her head to either 8.10 Putting the main light on the side opposite the visible (were it not covered by her hair) ear produces short lighting. 8.10 Putting the main light on the side opposite the visible (were it not covered by her hair) ear produces short lighting....

Stopping Flare

The basic dark-field approach to photographing glassware is probably the worst flare-producing arrangement that we could encounter. We have discussed the principles of camera flare in earlier chapters. Dark-field lighting exaggerates the problem by giving camera flare the opportunity to occur on all four sides of the image. Figure 7.17 is an extreme example. Even if the flare is not bad enough to produce a visible fogging of the edge of the image, the general degradation of the image from all...

Revealing Shape and Contour

In the previous chapter we dealt with the problems and opportunities for lighting objects that are flat, or nearly so things that are visually defined only in terms of length and width. In this chapter we add the third dimension depth. A box, for example, is a group of only three visible surfaces. Because we know how to light any of the surfaces well, we can also light all of them well. Does this mean we can light any of these surfaces using only the principles in the previous chapter Usually...

Curves

Because the digital realm forces us to talk about issues that are not strictly lighting issues, we should also mention curves. We will not give detailed information here because existing digital cameras display only histograms. (Some cameras may display curves, however, by the time you read this.) Curves are a postproduction tool that on the monitor look very much like the film characteristic curves we saw earlier in this chapter. They look quite different from the histogram but represent much...

Why Are The Principles Important

The three principles we have just given are statements of physical laws that have not changed since the beginning of the uni verse. They have nothing to do with style, taste, or fad. The timelessness of these principles is exactly what makes them so useful. Consider, for example, how they apply to portrait style. A representative 1949 portrait does not look like most portraits made in 1899 or 1999. But a photographer who understands light could execute any of them. Chapter 8 shows some good...

The Problems

The problems caused by glassware are a result of the very nature of the material. It is transparent. From most angles, light striking the visible edge of a piece of glassware does not reflect in the direction of the viewer. Such an edge is invisible. An invisible glass has no shape or form. To make matters worse, the few tiny reflections we do see are often too small and too bright to tell the anything about surface detail or texture. Figure 7.1 shows both problems. The direct reflections of...

Do I Need To Do These Exercises

If you are learning photography without any formal instruction, we suggest you try all of the basic examples in this book. Do not simply read about them. What happens in your head is the most important part of lighting, but the eye and the hand are still essential. Guided experience coordinates the three. When we talk about soft shadows or polarized direct reflections, for example, you already know how they look. They happen in the world, and you see them every day. But you will know them and...

Illuminating the Background

The basic dark-field approach produces a picture in which the background appears dark regardless of the actual tone of the background material. Brightening that background material requires an additional light source. To brighten a dark-field background, we simply put an additional light on the dark background. We position this light similarly to one used to produce bright-field illumination on a white opaque background. Usually, we can even use a light of similar intensity because the darker...

Defining the Surface of Glassware

In many situations, it is not enough merely to define the edges of a subject. It is not enough just to show its shape, no matter how beautifully we do it. Frequently, the photograph must also clearly show the glass surface. To accomplish this, we must carefully manage the highlights that reflect from the surface of the subject. Large highlights are essential to glass surface definition. To see proof of this, compare the highlights on Figure 7.9 with those seen earlier in Figure 7.1. The tiny...

Specular Reflection and Specular Light

Photographers sometimes call direct reflection specularreflection. As a synonym for direct reflection this is a perfectly good term. If you use the word specular in this way, please feel free to substitute the words as you read directreflection. However, some photographers also use specular to mean smaller, brighter highlights within a large one others mean highlights created by a small light source. Directreflection does not necessarily imply either of these. Because specularreflection has...

Exposing Whiteon White Scenes

The extremely high and extremely lowest ranges of the characteristic curve are those areas where we are most likely to lose detail. Reducing the exposure of a white-on-white scene puts the exposure in the middle of the characteristic curve. Doing this may make the scene look too dark, but we can fix it later. The worst thing that can happen is that we fix a picture so that it has the same loss it would have had with a normal exposure, and that's not too bad. The other thing that can happen is...

An Arsenal of Lights

Good lighting is the key to good portraiture. Posing, location, rapport, camera angle (the list can go on) are all important. However, that said, the lighting matters even more. We can do everything else beautifully, but if our lighting is bad, our portrait will be bad. It is that simple. Now, with that sermon in mind, let us look at what it takes to light a portrait properly. We will start by explaining the simplest of all portrait lighting using a single light source. The light that provides...

Window as a Main Light

It is a typical example of a window-lit portrait. This basic picture has been repeated many times by many photographers, and for good reason. As you can see, soft light streaming in through the window gives good contour and depth but none of the harshness sometimes seen in portraits that were made with direct daylight. As pleasing as this picture is, the lighting involves nothing new. The key to its success is already familiar. Large light sources produce soft lighting. In...

The Characteristic Curve

In this book, we generally keep our attention on lighting and stay away from extensive discussion of basic photography. Nevertheless, the characteristic curve dictates some of our technique when we light black-on-black or white-on-white subjects, so we have to talk about it. Other writers have explained this material in more detail. You may give this section as much or as little attention as you need, depending on whose books you have already read. Characteristic curves are used in many...

Introduction

Light Science & Magic is getting to be the classic text on photographic lighting. You might challenge that, however, by asking to what extent this book, about a rapidly evolving subject, could ever be considered the same book as its first edition. First published in 1990, with a second edition in 1997, we would expect a book that is largely technical to have obsolesced in that time. After all, when we first wrote Light Science & Magic, transmitting pictures electronically was a secret...

Light on Side

One way of producing the shadows that we need as depth clues is to position the main light on one side of the subject. We tried this in Figure 5.9, using a small, high-contrast light so that you could see the shadow easily. This is a potentially good approach, but it is usually not the best one for tabletop subjects. The combination of highlight and shadow does show dimension, but the hard shadow, located where it is, distracts from the primary subject. We could improve this photograph with a...

An Ideal Characteristic Curve with Increased Exposure

Shape of a curve with them always because it helps them previ-sualize how a real scene will appear in the picture. Furthermore, this mental image slightly exaggerates the problems found in reality. We will call this exaggerated example a bad camera. Figure 9.3 shows the characteristic curve we would get from a bad camera if we exposed it like the ideal one in the first example. The exposure steps shown on the horizontal line are identical to those in the first graph because we are photographing...

Using the Guide Number

Using the guide number requires quickly doing simple arithmetic in your head. Fortunately, it's all right to round off or estimate 10.1 An example of how to calculate the proper flash exposure using the guide number. 10.1 An example of how to calculate the proper flash exposure using the guide number. the numbers. Extreme precision is unnecessary. Use the example in Figure 10.1 again, but this time assume that the photographer already knows the guide number. 1. Estimate the distance to the...

Use a Dark Background

First, use a dark background if possible. As you can see from Figure 5.20, one of the ways in which glare-producing light gets to the subject is by reflecting from the background. Light from the tabletop can cause direct reflection on the sides of the box. If we are using a sweep, light from its upper part can reflect on the box top. The darker that background is, the less light reflects from it. This step alone may be adequate for some subjects. Sometimes you may not want a dark background. On...

Black Magic

Black magic is anything added to the basic lighting setup solely to place a black reflection in the metal surface. Black reflected in an edge can help to differentiate it from the background. Reflected across the center of a slightly irregular surface, black magic can also add dimension. Black magic usually involves the use of a gobo. This works especially well with a diffusion sheet. Placing the gobo between the diffusion sheet and the subject makes a hard black reflection. Putting it on the...

Light Background

By far the easiest way to photograph a three-dimensional metal subject is to use a light-gray background. The background itself is the light source for much of the visible metal. As soon as we place the subject on such a surface, much of the work is done and we need only a few adjustments to perfect the lighting. To produce Figure 6.23, we began with a background surface larger than we needed to fill the image area. Remember that the background needs to fill the family of angles reflected by...

Background Lights

So far we have talked about lighting the subject. Background lights illuminate, as the name implies, the background rather than the person being photographed. Figure 8.19 shows the effect of the background light by itself. Figure 8.20 was made with a three-light setup. Besides the main and fill lights that we used before, we added a background 8.20 Adding the background light to the fill and main lights surrounds the subject with a pleasing glow. light. Compare it with Figure 8.17, which was...

Competing Surfaces

Photographers would have less gray hair, and less income, if all work were as easy as the examples we have seen so far in this chapter. Some surfaces are rendered better by capitalizing on diffuse reflection others are depicted best by capitalizing on direct reflection. We've seen that the best lighting for one can be the worst for the other. When we have both in a single scene, our job gets harder. Too often, however, to be completely legible, some parts of the scene require diffuse...

Complications From Nonglass Subjects

The information that we have presented so far in this chapter is all we need to light glass subjects. However, in many cases we need to include nonglass objects in the same picture. The best 7.18 Lighting the diffusion sheet can also light the camera, causing a reflection of the camera in the subject. In this setup we have used a black card as a gobo to prevent the problem. 7.18 Lighting the diffusion sheet can also light the camera, causing a reflection of the camera in the subject. In this...

Direct Reflection

Direct reflections are a mirror image of the light source that produces them. They are also called specular reflections. Figure 3.4 is similar to Figure 3.1, but this time we have replaced the white card with a small mirror. Both the light source and the observers are in the same positions as they were earlier. Notice what happens. This time one of the three cameras now sees a blindingly bright reflection, while the others see no reflection at all in the mirror. This diagram illustrates the...

Keep the Subject away from the Background

Suppose we place the subject far enough from the background that the lighting of the subject has no effect on the background. We can then light the subject any way we please and the background will remain black. This is easy if we crop the bottom of the subject out of the picture. In Figure 9.27 the model hand is on a pedestal several feet from the background. This allows us to light the hand well with almost no light on the background. However, if the entire subject has to show, we have to...

Some Finishing Touches

Up to this point we have discussed techniques that define the shape of glassware. As you have seen, we can define the subject shape by using either dark lines against a light background or by using light lines against a dark background. These two techniques are the foundation for lighting glass. However, we often need additional techniques to produce a satisfactory photograph. In the remainder of this chapter, we will discuss some finishing touches. Specifically, we will examine how to...

Setting Rules

Everything we tell you in this chapter is true, and it all works. Please do things as we say but not always. There is not a single rule here that has not been successfully and pleasingly violated at one time or another. For example, we repeatedly recommend a large light source for portraiture. Using a large light to soften shadows tends to make people look prettier, but this does not mean that large light sources inevitably produce the best portraits. Less flattering lighting can give the...

Use More Than One Light

We could also combine the lighting used in Figure 4.20 with that in Figure 4.21. Such a two-light arrangement is shown in Figure 4.21. In principle, this solution is the same as using a single very large light some of the rays come from angles that cause direct reflection, whereas others come from angles that can only cause diffuse reflection. Using two lights may be easier to control, however, because we can adjust the power in each light independently. Like a single very large source, the...

Bright Field Lighting

Figure 7.2 is an example of the bright-field approach to lighting glass. The background dictates how we must treat any glass subject. On a bright background, we have to keep the glass dark if it is to remain visible. If you have read Chapter 2 and the chapters following it, you have already guessed that the bright-field method requires eliminating all direct reflection from the edge of the glass surface. You also should be able to see why we need to begin this discussion by examining the family...

Key Triangle Too Narrow Main Light Too Far to Side

Figure 8.9 illustrates still another potential problem. We positioned the light so that the nose casts a dark shadow across her cheek. This shadow blocks the key triangle. Once more the cure is simple. To avoid a shadow such as this one, all we have to do is move the light a bit more to the front. When we do this, the key triangle will reappear. 8.8 The unsettling raccoon eyes that we see here come from lifting the main light too high above the model's face. Figure 8.9 illustrates still another...

Applying The Theory

Excellent recording of a subject requires more than focusing the camera properly and exposing the picture accurately. The subject and the light have a relationship with each other. In a good photograph, the light is appropriate to the subject and the subject is appropriate to the light. The meaning of appropriate is the creative decision of the photographer. Any decision the photographer makes is likely to be appropriate if it is guided by understanding and awareness of how the subject and the...

Photographing Buildings Decreasing Tonal Variation

The same techniques apply to photographing the building in Figure 5.17 as to making a picture of a brick. Both cases need those visual clues that add the illusion of depth. However, special considerations apply to the building. The first is that we are likely to prefer a smaller light source for the architecture than for the brick. This does not suggest that architecture does not photograph beautifully on an overcast day. The opposite is true. Architectural photography almost always includes...

Doing the Impossible

The preceding examples tell us that even illumination and glare-free illumination can be mutually exclusive goals. The closer the light source is to the camera, the more directly it lights the subject and the more even the illumination becomes. However, the farther the light is to the side, the less likely it is to be within the family of angles that causes direct reflection. We have also seen that the usual solution to this dilemma requires more working space in any direction. Here is why...

How Photographers Describe Light

Even if we confine our attention to the visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, everyone knows that the effect of one group of photons may be radically different from that of another. Examining our album of mental images, we all see the difference between an autumn sunset, a welder's arc, and an early morning fog. Even in a standard office location, the decision to install fluorescent tubes, tungsten spots, or large skylights can have a major effect on the decor (as well as on the mood...

Reflector Cards as Fill Lights

One of the simplest and least expensive ways of brightening dark shadows is to use reflector cards to bounce light coming from the main light onto the face of the subject. Figure 8.17 8.16 Two fill light alternatives. Bouncing one light into an umbrella produces softer lighting. The small light, near the camera, produces hard shadows, but they fall mostly behind the subject, where the camera cannot see them. 8.16 Two fill light alternatives. Bouncing one light into an umbrella produces softer...

Dark Field Lighting

The dark-field method produces the opposite result, illustrated in Figure 7.5. Review the family of angles that produces direct reflection in Figure 7.3. We saw that in the previous arrangement there must be no light at the limits of the family of angles, L, if the edge of the glass is to remain dark. It makes sense to suppose, then, that the light must come from L if the edge of the glass is to be bright. Furthermore, if we do not want other bright distractions in the glass, then the glass...

Using Diffuse Reflection and Shadow to Reveal Texture

Diffuse Reflection Example

In any discussion of surface definition, we must talk about texture. This is why we promised at the beginning of this chapter that all examples would be nearly two dimensional. We will first look at a photograph that fails to reveal the texture of the subject. This will help us analyze the problem and come up with a better solution. 4.12 The solution to the impossible lighting requires placing the lights for even illumination and using polarizers to prevent glare. The axis of the light...

Capitalizing On Diffuse Reflection

Photographers are sometimes asked to photograph paintings, illustrations, or antique photographs. Such copy work is one simple example of a circumstance in which we usually want only diffuse, and not direct, reflection. Because this is the first concrete demonstration of lighting technique in this book, we will discuss it in great detail. The example shows how an experienced photographer thinks through any lighting arrangement. Beginners will be surprised at the amount of thinking involved in...

The Angle of Light

Easy Model Reflection Light

What sort of lighting might accomplish this To answer that question, let us begin by looking at a standard copy setup and at the family of angles that produces direct reflection. Figure 4.1 shows a standard copy camera arrangement. The camera is on a stand and is aimed at the original art on a copy board beneath it. Assume that the height of the camera is set so that the image of the original art exactly fills the image area. We have drawn the family of angles from which a light, or lights, can...

Absorption

Light that is absorbed by the subject is never again seen as visible light. The absorbed energy still exists, but it is emitted by the subject in an invisible form, usually heat Figure 2.14 . Like transmission, simple absorption cannot be photographed. It is visible only when we compare it to other light in the scene that is not absorbed. This is why highly light-absorbing subjects, such as black velvet or black fur, are among the most difficult things to photograph. Most subjects absorb part,...

What Kind Of Camera Do I Need

Asking What kind of camera do I need may seem silly to experienced photographers. But we have taught this material, we know how many perfectly intelligent students ask it, and we have to answer it. There are two good answers, and they contradict each other slightly. The weight we place on each answer matters more than the answers themselves. Successful photographs depend on the photographer more than the equipment. Inexperienced photographers work best with the camera with which they are...

Contrast

Rays From High Contrast Light Source

The third important characteristic of a photographic light is its contrast. A light source has high contrast if its rays all strike the subject from nearly the same angle. Light rays from a low-contrast source strike the subject from many different angles. Sunlight on a clear day is a common example of a high-contrast light source. Notice that the rays of sunlight in Figure 2.4 are parallel to one another. They all strike the subject at the same angle. The easiest way to recognize a...

What Is Light

A complete definition of the nature of light is complex. In fact, several Nobel Prizes have been awarded for various contributions to the working definition we use today. We will simplify our discussion by using a definition adequate for applied photography. If you are still curious after reading this, see any basic physics text. Light is a type of energy called electromagnetic radiation. Electromagnetic radiation travels through space in tiny bundles called photons. A photon is pure energy and...

Complex Surfaces

In this book we will use the term complex surface to mean a single surface that requires both diffuse and direct reflection to define it properly. Glossy wood is a good example. Only direct 4.25 The result of the technique illustrated in Figure 4.24 detail in the blacks, plus legible type on the label. 4.25 The result of the technique illustrated in Figure 4.24 detail in the blacks, plus legible type on the label. reflection can tell the viewer that the wood is glossy, but diffuse reflection is...

Diffuse Reflection

Diffuse Reflection Photography

Diffuse reflections are the same brightness regardless of the angle from which we view them. This is because the light from the sources is reflected equally in all directions by the surface it strikes. Figure 3.1 shows a diffuse reflection. In it we see light falling on a small white card. Three people are pointing their cameras at it. If each of these individuals were to photograph the white card, each of their pictures would record the subject as the same brightness. On film, the image of the...

Breaking the Inverse Square

Did it alarm you to read that the camera that sees the direct reflection will record an image as bright as the light source How do we know how bright the direct reflection will be if we do not even know how far away the light source is We do not need to know how far away the source is. The brightness of the image of a direct reflection is the same regardless of the distance from the source. This principle seems to stand in flagrant defiance of the inverse square law, but an easy experiment will...

The Family Of Angles

Our previous diagrams have been concerned with only a single point on a reflective surface. In reality, however, each surface is 3.5 Two clues tell us this picture was made with a small light source hard shadows and the size of the reflection in the mirror. 3.5 Two clues tell us this picture was made with a small light source hard shadows and the size of the reflection in the mirror. 3.6 A larger light softens the shadow. More important, the reflection of the light now completely fills the...

Polarized Direct Reflection

Polarized Direct Reflection

A polarized direct reflection is so similar to an ordinary direct reflection that photographers often treat them as the same. However, these reflections offer photographers several specialized techniques and tools for dealing with them. Like the direct reflection, only one viewer in Figure 3.8 will see the reflection. Unlike the direct reflection, an image of the polarized reflection is always substantially dimmer than a photograph of the light source itself. A perfectly polarized direct...

The Case of the Disappearing Glass

The Principles The Problems The Solutions Two Attractive Opposites Bright-Field Lighting Dark-Field Lighting The Best of Both Worlds Some Finishing Touches Defining the Surface of Glassware Illuminating the Background Minimizing the Horizon Stopping Flare Eliminating Extraneous Reflections Complications from Nonglass Subjects Liquids in Glass 112 113 113 116 117 120 120 124 126 130 132 150 150 152 152 156 160 162 162 166 166 168

Direct and Diffuse Transmission

Diffusion Translucent Lighting

So far we have talked about direct transmission, in which light passes through a material in a predictable path. Materials such as white glass and thin paper scatter the light rays in many random, unpredictable directions as they pass through. This is called diffuse transmission Figure 2.13 . Materials that produce diffuse transmission are called translucent to distinguish them from transparent materials, such as clear glass, which do not significantly diffuse the light. Diffuse transmission is...

What Are The Principles

To photographers, the important principles of light are those that predict how it will behave. Some of these principles are especially powerful. You will probably be surprised to find how few they are, how simple they are to learn, and how much they explain. We discuss these key principles in detail in Chapters 2 and 3. They are the tools we use for everything else. In later chapters we put them to work to light a wide range of different subjects. At this point we will simply list them. 1. The...

Fil Hunter Steve Biver Paul Fuqua

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