Exercise- Experimenting with Light

Try and use the same person as a model for this exercise. Take between four and six standard head and shoulders portraits that are very different in lighting effect. Find locations in which the light varies and is suitable for taking a portrait photograph.

For this exercise I decided to use a bright sunny day in order to get the greatest variety of lighting. I chose a teenage boy as my model, and positioned him in a variety of different positions in accordance with the sun in order to show the vast lighting effects that a simple sunny day can achieve. The key to this exercise for me was showing that you don’t need fancy photographic lighting and equipment to produce a variety of lighting effects. You will find my four images below;

Side lighting; For this shot, we see that the sun is hitting the side of the subject’s face. This has resulted in half the subject’s face falling into shadow, and half in bright sunlight. This effect adds interest and depth to this shot, where otherwise it may have appeared rather flat. However, this is a tricky kind of lighting, and it must be treated carefully, as sometimes it produces a harsh and rather unflattering lighting on the subject.

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Back Lighting/ Silhouette. The sun is hitting the back of the subject in this shot. This produces a strong silhouette appearance, which creates a very dramatic effect. This is a standard way for a photographer to add a variety of shots to a photoshoot, and works very well to show the shape of the subject.

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Even Lighting; I captured a full body shot for this image, as I wanted to show off the nice pose that the model was in. The sun is hitting the subject from directly in front for this shot. It is slightly less bright than previous shots, which results in a pleasant and evenly diffused image. This produces the most flattering appearance for the subject- highlighting that the best lighting for portraits is indeed cloudy weather.

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Edge Lighting; Again I went slightly off the brief and captured a full body shot- this time incorporating the subject’s cousin, as I was doing a photoshoot for a client, and was aiming to get my exercise images at the same time! The subject is laughing at his cousin in this shot, which adds a nice relaxed and candid feel to this photo. The sun is hitting the subject from behind and to the side, which results in a slight edge lighting effect. The interesting silhoeuette of the trees in the background creates a dramatic and slightly creepy shot- where the subject may have looked better with a strong, serious pose and expression.

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I think I have demonstrated well how simple it is to create a variety of shots using different lighting techniques. I have shown that silhouettes are a strong and interesting addition to a shoot, and also that cloudy weather produces lovely lighting for portraits. However, this can result in flat images- so possibly a mixture of sunshine and clouds would produce a stronger and more interesting set of images, when done correctly.


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