Making Not Taking Photographs

Backstage views on making photographs professionally

Lighting for photographs…

There is one rule you can’t break…. NO LIGHT EQUALS NO PHOTOGRAPH!

I read about lots of photographers who brag about using only natural light or no added light or whatever… Mostly their stuff looks awful.

Every good or great photo you have ever seen has had the light controlled or manipulated by the photographer. Ansel burned and dodged and pushed and pulled in the developer. Burkett uses masks to control printing densities on each color. If the photographer is using a digital camera do you really know anyone who produces anything worth looking at that hasn’t touched one of the light manipulation sliders on a photo image processor?

Show me a great photo I will show you light control.

So what’s the point?

Well, the point is: There is no definition or rule about where all that light needs to come from or HOW it gets controlled.

Here are three examples of lighting set ups I use all the time.

ONE: The on camera flash… there is only one hard rule… you never aim it directly at the subject…   Note  the light dome… and the colored gel on the light tube. People aren’t blue so I don’t try to photograph them with blue light._MG_4279wedding 5-03-09 0591

TWO: The full sized studio set up. There are 5000 watt seconds of power here. We are shooting at f29 for depth of field on very small objects. The pictures are sharp and the lights can be controlled to 1/4 f stop. It’s repeatable and that’s the key to studio work._MG_3518_MG_3528_MG_3534

THREE: My favorite the minimalist lighting equipment.

_MG_4280Red wineShrimp and wine

I recently showed up at a restaurant photo shoot working for another photographer. The first question was: Where’s your lighting equipment?

I pulled out the flashlight and there was silence… until they saw the results.

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