Basic portrait lighting

One of the key factors to capturing good portraits is making sure that your lighting is up to the task. This involves more than just ensuring that there is enough light to make a good exposure. The quality of the light that you use will help to characterize the style of portraits you make. Good photographers understand and can control the quality of light within their pictures. It is up to you to start to train your eyes to see the differences in light quality and to predict the effect they will have on the way that your subjects are lit.

1 Direct, strong lighting, which produces hard-edged, dark shadows and is often used to emphasize texture. In portraiture, this style suits subjects with big and bold personalities and strong facial features.

2 Soft, diffused light is more delicate, creates light shadows and is often used to minimize texture. This lighting is by far the most popular style of portrait lighting, as it softly caresses sitters rather than starkly defining them.

Figure 23.2 There are a range of ways to reduce the light contrast in the studio (and outdoors) without creating a second shadow.
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