If asked what the most important aspect of photography is, some will probably say the lens or camera. In contrast, others say it’s the skills or techniques required to take great photographs, a skill which is acquired over time and through experience or talent. Yet, some will say it’s the quality of the equipment.
While all the above are very important, they are nothing compared to light. Light is the most important aspect of photography. It is the beginning and end of photography, without which there would be no image.
Types of Light Sources
There are two types of sources of light, namely natural light and artificial light. Natural light sources include the moon and the sun, while artificial light sources include candles, flashes, tungsten bulbs, etc.
Seasoned photographers use both types of light, and the preference for one over the other will depend on the type or style of photography. Also, both light sources have their advantages and drawbacks.
Benefits of Natural Light Sources
- Cheaper Source of light: You only need your camera with natural light. While you may have to purchase a high-quality camera, you won’t need additional gear. This makes natural light sources a cheaper alternative.
- Products a bright and airy look: With an artificial light source, it isn’t easy to produce a bright and airy aesthetic, but not so with a natural light source. Taking pictures with natural light produces relatable, natural images that customers can connect to, thus converting potential customers to loyal ones.
- Requires no training: You can take decent pictures with natural light even without formal training. Unlike studio lighting, where you spend hours researching how to set it up and use it, you only need to grab your camera and click away with natural light.
Benefits of Artificial Lighting
- Does not depend on the weather: The studio light is fixed and does not rely on the weather. This makes it a reliable source of light.
- Ability to take pictures anytime: With artificial lighting, you can take pictures anytime, even late at night.
- Produces more high-end results: Professional pictures taken in a studio with studio lighting often appear more polished, refined, and classy. This helps your brand appear professional and high-end.
- Gives you control over the picture output: Artificial lighting gives you creative control. You can determine the intensity of the light, the sources, direction and shape of the light. You can also use light diffusers to adjust the colour or harshness of the light.
Colour Variation of Light
Light varies in colour, and each source of light has a colour cast it impacts. This colour cast is known as the colour of the light. Each light source has a different colour cast. For example:
- Tungsten light bulb: A tungsten bulb has an orange colour cast. This is why your pictures appear orange when you shoot under a tungsten light bulb.
- Fluorescent Light Bulb: Another example is the blue saturation that appears when you shoot under a fluorescent light bulb.
- Natural light: Natural light also has a colour cast. For instance, early morning light casts a golden yellow hue, while afternoon light is a deeper shade of yellow.
However, adjusting your camera for the ideal white balance can eliminate the colour cast.
Intensity Variation of Light
Light intensity depicts how deep shadows appear in an image. All light creates a shade, yet, there are two types of light intensity, namely:
- Hard light: Hard light gives your subject depth, dimension and complexity. Hard light has a high-contrast nature, creating a sense of drama and giving your pictures a gritty and edgy appearance. The light is more suitable for pictures that appear serious and strong.
- Soft Light: Soft light, on the other hand, occurs when the source of light is bigger than the subject; it occurs when the source of light is placed far from the subject. It is a more subtle and flattering light than hard light. It gives a natural feel, making your subject appear friendly, warm and welcoming.
Besides, soft light requires less editing. It is commonly used in travel, food, fashion, and portrait photography, if you are interested read more about composition tips for portrait photography. However, hard light can become hard when you move the subject closer to the light source. Hence, depending on the subject’s distance, a light source can be soft or hard.
Tips for Photography
One of the tips for photography is to watch out for great light to make the elements in the picture look good. Pay attention to how the colour and direction of light change through the day and adjust the subject’s appearance in the frame.
Also, avoid shooting pictures during midday (when the sun is high in the sky); this will produce a harsh light. Rather, aim for the light to come from the side, as this will add the perception of texture and depth to the picture.
Note that warm colours, including yellow and red, are noticed before the cooler colours (blue and green). One trick to use is to place the warmer colour before the cool one to add more depth to your picture. This will project a warm colour, making it more visually appealing.
The Impact of Light on Photography
As stated already, light is the most important part of photography. It determines the darkness and brightness of a picture. Besides that, it also sets a picture’s atmosphere, tone and mood. It is, therefore, important to control the direction of light correctly to get the best vibrancy of colour, luminosity, and texture on the subject. By evenly and accurately distributing shadows and highlights, you can create.
It has been proven that customers rely more on images than products when it comes to online purchases. Hence, for e-commerce businesses, excellent photography is a great opportunity to boost customers’ confidence and increase sales.
However, high-quality photography is about more than just the camera and photographer. The best pictures enable the business to maintain a professional, clean, and beautiful appearance across all social media platforms and websites.
However, great pictures can only be produced with light. It is the most basic and most important aspect of photography.