Creating Depth With LIGHT


The eye is regarded as the best optic equipment available. It captures light in its retina to create the final image that is seen. Now, since inception of the camera age, light has been a critical element in the creation of photographs. Light is everything in photography – from natural light, to the studio light, down to the various other sources of light (e.g. the sun) available.

Wherever there is light, one can photograph. – Alfred Stieglitz

This past week, we had our hands full dealing with the various challenges of creating a portrait in our new studio. The two shoots done during the week were of birthday celebrants who thought it necessary to celebrate the day with good pictures of themselves to show for it, rather than allow their special days to pass without record.

Light is essential in the making of an image. As well, a good light source engaged appropriately could create depth and dimension, which will result in a well-rounded and better image. So, on Wednesday when we had an encounter with the first subject, we attempted to use two light sources on the image – one as the main light and the other as the fill light. We took some time to perfect the choice of lighting style and the beauty of the shot was all the more realized when we added a third light source.

We chose a plain white background for this shoot. Ordinarily, this sort of background would have been okay and natural for the shoot. However, we faced the risk of ending up with a set of boring images for our efforts. And, especially since we had earlier used petals to write a number on the background behind the subject, we needed the third light source (and the right sense of composition) to bring about the desired results. So, we trained the third light source on the white background which was gelled with blue color to project the background petals and overall color of the image.

The overall lighting arrangement was eventually perfected and the resultant image was a well-lit natural looking image with a blue fill to the background. The symbolic petals had come out in blue color, the white background had turned out with a fill of blue, and the overall color of the image gave a smooth blend.

Unfortunately, we later had to switch to a one light setup. Two of our flashes had gotten burnt. We were, therefore, left with no choice but to continue with the shoot within the frame of the available light and still come up with an astonishing shoot. The final part of our shoot was with one light on a softbox. We filled-in with the help of a reflector, though the reflector was not powerful enough to give full light-up to the image. To compensate for the light deficiency, the subject was tilted more towards the light, the blue gel was still available to create the blue colored background, and the photographer did justice to the image with great composition.

On Thursday, when we encountered our second subject, our lighting method was a bit different. Our background was with a different tweak – laid with newspapers and no blue fill to the background. As well, our model needed to be coached on poses, which we enthusiastically helped with. For our efforts, we ended up with great images, our model’s height working to her advantage in her various beautiful dresses.

I remain Tobi Idowu; I love life, I love people and I love the art of photography.

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