10. Light has color, even when it looks “white.” This is called color temperature and our eye adapts to it automatically. With digital cameras you can use the white balance setting to neutralize color casts or emphasize them. Auto white balance helps you in this manner but manual is always best.
9. Backlight can be used as highly diffused light. Backlight can be used to get dramatic effects but one must counter the intensity with fill light on the subject in order to get proper subject exposure in any creative avenue.
8. Shadows create volume. This is a 3-D image. Lighting from the side, above or below creates the sense of volume. Tip: Hollywood lighting is a light positioned high above and one slightly to the side, angled down, but not so the shadow of the nose falls more than midway down the upper lip.
7. Frontlighting de-emphasizes texture. Above, side or below light enhances texture. This is a great tip for reducing skin wrinkles, acne, or skin blemishes.
6. Light falloff can vary the relationship between your subject light and background. If the light is close to the subject, the fall off (or spill light) will be more pronounced. Move the light away and the background will be relatively brighter.
5. The farther the light source, the more it falls off (aka gets dimmer on the subject.) This may seem rudimentary but there is a catch. If you move a light twice as far from your subject, you don’t end up with 1/2 the amount of light but 1/4 of the original distance’s amount of light. To get more technical, light falls off as a square of the distance.
4. Bouncing light as a diffusion. When you bounce a light off a large surface (wall, ceiling, or even a poster board of chosen color) the light not only reflects off the surface but does so in a diffused manner, scattering the light evenly. On the contrary, use a shiny reflector and the light will stay fairly narrow on the bounce back. Tip: crumpled aluminum on a large piece of cardboard makes great sparkly highlights.
3. Diffusion scatters light, essentially making the light source broader and softer. Think of clouds blocking the sun. They make shadows less distinct. A common misconception: Sunny days are best for portraits. Not always true. Cloudy days allow the photographer to work the nice diffused light but sunny days make the photographer have to work around the shadows.
2. The closer the light source, the softer the light. The farther the light source, the harder the light. This is always a head tilter. Move a light closer and you make it bigger–that is, broader–in relation to the subject. Move it farther away and you make it relatively smaller–that is, narrower– in relation to the subject. Tip: when using indoor light, more lamps closer to the subject for softer light and add more distance for harder light.
1. The broader the light source, the softer the light. The narrower the light source, the harder the light. Broad lessens shadows, reduces contrast and suppresses texture and blemishes. Narrow light increases shadows, increases contrast and enhances texture and blemishes. Tip: a subject close to a bright, in direct sunlight penetration window, for the cheapest softbox (excluding the mortgage, rent or lease monthly payment)