Longing to figure out the role of lighting in portrait photograph but does not know how? Regularly frustrated by the plenty types of lighting when taking portrait photograph? By knowing the basics of lighting in portrait photograph, you may figure out that things prove to be so easy. Let’s see five essential lighting for portrait photograph.
- Natural light
Strictly speaking, natural light is not a type of lighting we discussed today. But it is the most functional and no-cost light source for photographer. Hence, we’d like to give it more attention.
Normally, photographers are more likely to use artificial lighting than nature light, since they have less control over the photos by using natural light. The fact is, you can move around, choose different distance between the light and the subject, change the shooting time during the day, even use a filter to shade the light from the window. It is absolutely the best starting point to learn the fundamentals of lighting.
One more thing, the natural light we mention here is not only the sun and the moon, but also the lighting bouncing off of the sun, even the present light sources in the scene, like bulbs, candles or lamps.
- Front light
Front light is to place the light source in front of the subject directly, therefore the subject is well lit and has no shadows on the face. It is the simplest type to shoot. What’s more, front lighting is conducive to have a much flawless portrait for those people who have imperfections and wrinkles, which would be highlighted by shadows. If the subjects care about their facial appearances, you can use front light to solve this problem. Keep one thing in mind, the facial features are also weakened by using this light. We need shadows to give more life to the photos. Make a balance when you decide to use the front light.
Sidelight is also simple to shoot, much more flattering than the flat light. When creating a side light, the light source is settled from the side of the subject, therefore there are shadows on part of the face, which emphasize facial features and bring stereo sense into the portrait. By slightly changing the angle of the light source, the way the shadows falling also varies.
There are two common sidelights in portrait photograph. One is short light that the shadow part on the face is closest to the camera. Thus the face is thinned, which is rather flattering for the majority. The other one is broad light that the most well-lit part is closest to the camera, which makes the face much fuller and is suitable for a thin face. No matter which one you choose, pay attention to the facial features of your subject and take their opinions into consideration.
- Butterfly light
Butterfly light can be seen as a sort of sidelights in some sense. As the light source is placed in the front and upper side of the face, a small shadow occurs under the nose in symmetry, which looks like a butterfly. By using butterfly light, the cheekbones are highlighted for a more charming portrait with a richer layer, which is mostly used on women.
Back light, as the name suggests, is the light behind the subject. It is a little trickier than the above ones. Since all lights are from the behind and shadows are in the front, the subject is prone to be a dark silhouette and lose features. Here you can use a reflector in front of the subject to avoid the lack of clarity. Move the reflector further or closer and change the angles until you get the light you want.
Image resources: Unsplash & FOX backdrop
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