The topic of light is like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. On the surface it seems very basic, but it is only as you explore the topic do you see how much variation light brings to photography.
Take “natural light”. It can be harsh, diffused, bounced, reflected, open shade, end of day, back lighting and more. You can create starbursts, glares, flares, rainbows or expose it in a way to create silhouettes. Using nothing but the sun as your light source can be the inspiration for a lifetime of creative work.
For portraits, we label the lighting based on the shadow pattern or lack of shadows: Butterfly, Loop, Rembrandt, Split, Rim, Broad, Short, Flat (or Fill).
We identify the lighting source as natural, ambient, flash, continuous, strobe, light painting, gel, candle, fireworks, sparklers, fire, diffused, harsh, night.
Mastering light is what separates photographers. How a photographer sees light; how much they understand how the camera sees light; how they edit the photograph for light are the key factors to developing their style. It is why you look at one photograph and see art and another and think snapshot. It is a show me, don't tell me form of art.
No matter what you choose for the light source some things don’t change. Light has basic principles like direction, intensity and color. There is a mathematical formula for determining how light will drop off from the point of the source. This is a physics law know as the Inverse Square Law.
The inverse square law describes the intensity of light at different distances from a light source. Every light source is different, but the intensity changes in the same way. The intensity of light is inversely proportional to the square of the distance between light source and measuring point.
Understanding this principle, plus how our eyes are constantly adjusting to light, will help you start to see how the camera captures a scene differently than you view it. Understanding light will help you in learning to control it.
Still, for me, what separates the artist photographer from the technical photographer is our desire to play with light; to dance with light; to sing its song; to be fearless; to find its soul; to fall in love.
Hope you will join me and Photo Society as we take an artistic journey this year with Light and Love.