Lighting, lighting, lighting. Painting with light. Capturing the light. Seeing the light. There are many ways of romantically describing what we do as photographers. The truth is that without light we can´t do our job.
Whether you´re a naturalist or a flashhead, understanding lighting is paramount to your success. Just as an aspiring chef will learn about ingredients and recipies, we have to learn the basics of light and lighting setups.
Thinking of it, this post should probably not be the first lighting post, and I should have started with the core basics. I´ll sit myself down after newyears and make a proper plan for this lighting series of blogposts. Here is a taste anyhow.
This is a shot of my good friends and band Tinnsoldat. We weren´t sure of how we wanted the final result to look like, we just knew we wanted it looking quite dark and gritty. In my “lighting setup arsenal” dark and gritty translates to; Medium/High Contrast Side lighting as mainlight with an optional Medium/High Contrast Rimlight (or Kicker as I like to call it).
The difference between soft light and hard light depends on the size of the light. Imagine a sunny day vs an overcast day. The sun, being a small dot, gives harsh shadows and bright highlights. In this case there is a huge difference between the darkest and lightest values. Now, an overcast day is really just the world putting on a softbox og diffusion “blanket” and instead of a tiny intense dot giving us light, the whole sky is one enourmous light. The shadows (if any) are soft as are the highlights. The difference between the darkest and lightest values is strongly reduced.
So, what did I do to get the look below?
I chose a 180cm octobox as mainlight. This is usually my go to for soft lighting but as I mentioned above, size matters, so I moved the light further away from the models to make it smaller relative to them and adjusted the flash output to compensate for the distance.
After a testshot with only the main light I felt the image looked boring so I added the kicker for ekstra punch.
This lighting setup works both for contrasty/gritty images as well as soft/delicate images. It´s all about the distance of the flashes from models.
Let me know if anything is unclear in the comments and I´ll aim for more structure in future posts :)