How to control lighting in camera photography?

  • Basically everything that can be seen by the naked eve, from the light of the early dawn to moonlight, can be photographed. I much prefer either early-morning light (the two hours after sunrise) or the late afternoon the two hours before sunset), when the warmer light of the sun gives a more romantic and appealing effect. The long shadows cast at these times can also add visual interest to the photograph.

  • The direction of the light in relation to the camera makes an enormous difference. Most pictures are taken with the light either behind the camera or to one side of it. Strong side lighting will emphasize the texture of an object. An altogether different effect is obtained through back lighting: when the light source is behind the subject, its form stands out in dark outline as a silhouette.

  • If I have to photograph people outdoors, I generally prefer to shoot when the sunlight is diffused by a high overcast, because this gives a soft, pleasing light with good modulation of tones. Or else I look for an appropriate spot in the shade. Direct sunlight produces strong shadows, which are too harsh and “contrasty” for flattering portraits. Not only can the sun make your subject to squint, but when it is high overhead, the eyes are in shadow and will come out too dark. If there is no alternative, it is advisable to use either an electronic flash or flood light to illuminate the shadow area around the eyes.

  • In photographs taken outdoors at night it is often the bright lights contrasted against the dark background that provides the dramatic effect. One must, however, be careful not to take photos when a few dots of light appear against a solid black background. The best time for night pictures is within half an hour after sunset, when the sky is still light enough to silhouette the subject. When one is unsure of the correct exposure for a scene, bracketing above and below the initial exposure is good insurance that one correct exposure will result.

More information about camera settings

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