Studio Lighting

Alright, ladies and gents, today’s post is all about studio lighting!  I can’t speak to Anne’s experiences, but I took a couple of digital photography classes in college where we learned the basics of studio lighting.  And now I’m here to pass the savings on to you!  I mean the knowledge.  I’m going to pass the knowledge on to you.

Sort of in hand with the previous post about high key and low key lighting, there’s a few names to the quality of light being used.  Soft light is exactly how it sounds it would be.  There are little to no harsh shadows or highlights and the contrast is not too sharp, either.  Hard light is the opposite.  It’s high contrast with harsh shadowing and harsh highlights.  See the examples below.

Model: Darrien.  Shot with a Nikon D5100.  No editing.  Soft light.

    Model: Darien. Shot with a Nikon D5100. No editing. Soft light.

Model: Nick.  Shot with Nikon D5100.  No editing.

Model: Nick. Shot with a Nikon D5100. No editing. Hard light.

There’s also special terminology for where a light is coming from.  Hint: the terms are super easy to remember.  Front light comes from in front of the subject.  Back light comes from behind the subject.  Side light comes from – wait for it, this one’s a tricky one – the side of the subject.  Tough, right?  Below are some examples.

Models: Kevin and Daniel.  Shot with a Nikon D5100.  No editing.  Front Lighting.

Models: Kevin and Daniel. Shot with a Nikon D5100. No editing. Front Lighting.

Shot with a Nikon D5100.  No editing.  Back Lighting.

Shot with a Nikon D5100. No editing. Back Lighting.

 

Model: Me! Photographer: Ryan Edner.  Unsure camera make/model. Unsure about editing.

Model: Me! Photographer: Ryan Edner. Unsure camera make/model. Unsure about editing.

As you can see with some of the above shots, it’s fun to play around with colored lighting.  While I style myself as a natural light photographer, sometimes it’s nice to be able to control my light source.  Adding interesting colors without the use of photoshop is also very nice.  I would highly suggest renting studio lighting or coming up with a rig of your own if you’re attempting more complex and abstract photography ideas.  Product photos are also better done in some sort of studio setting.  Or, at the very least, with controlled lighting.

The one downside I can see to studio lighting is that if you’re working with a inexperienced models, being in such an intense setting might make them uneasy and hard to get any good pictures until the model relaxes.  It really helps if you can joke around and make your models feel comfortable in their settings.  But that’s a trick for an entirely different post.

Now get out there and shoot!

-Kate

Get a Different Perspective

Don’t you just hate when the photography bug bites and you’re somewhere that you’ve been a thousand times before and it just sucks because there’s nothing to really inspire you?  You just sit around the park by your house or the lake at your family’s summer cabin, camera in hand, staring wistfully at the screen or through the view finder.  All you can manage are a few family photos that you’re basically forced to take just because you have the “nicest camera!”

In these situations, you have to force yourself to think outside the box.  When you’re at Grandma’s house for the millionth time, you can’t expect to find the same tree that’s been in the front yard since your mom was born as interesting as it was the first twenty times you photographed it.

This advice comes from personal experience: don’t be afraid to get a little dirty.  Get on your knees.  Lie on your back.  Get a little closer than you usually would.  Move a little farther away.  Look at your surroundings from a different perspective.

Nikon D5100. Edited in Camera Raw.

Steven’s Point, WI.  Nikon D5100. Edited in Camera Raw.

Take a walk around and make a note of the things you have photographed a thousand times before.  Think about where you usually stand or what angle you usually take the photos at.  Then don’t do those things.  Do something different.  And again, don’t be afraid to get dirty!  I was up to my eyes in this tall grass in a ditch on the side of a dirt road.  Bug bites galore, but I love this shot of my grandparent’s barn.

Nikon D5100. Edited in Camera Raw.

Steven’s Point, WI.  Nikon D5100. Edited in Camera Raw.

Us grandkids have always been told to stay away from the barn, which is falling apart at the seams.  But be willing to break the rules, so to speak.  Get up close and personal with something you’ve stayed away from.   Look critically around you and step outside your photography comfort zone to find a picture you wouldn’t have typically taken but will absolutely love.

Nikon D5100. Edited in Camera Raw.

Steven’s Point, WI.  Nikon D5100. Edited in Camera Raw.

Even things that you would normally take photos of (for me, that’s flowers) can become a source of inspired photographs – especially when the subject seems old hat.  It’s all a matter of twisting your body and holding your breath to get the shot.  Composition is, of course, important when searching for inspiration in everyday, familiar subjects.

Nikon D5100. Edited in Camera Raw.

Steven’s Point, WI.  Nikon D5100. Edited in Camera Raw.

Find things around you that you might take for granted.  For me, for this shot, this mobile hanging from Grandma’s laundry line has just always been a part of the scenery.  It never really stood out to me and I never had a reason to look twice at it.  Don’t get put in a situation like I did for this shot.  Grandma recently moved out of the house that she grew up in, that she raised her own children in, that I’ve spent quite a number of summers at.  She’s 92 years young and lives on a farm by her lonesome.  She decided that she didn’t need or want to care for a huge amount of land and a dilapidated house that had more problems than there were solutions.  My last trip to the farm was a few months ago when I visited for a few days to help her pack.  It was a bittersweet experience for me.  I’m 100% supportive of my grandmother’s decision to move to an apartment – she’s still completely capable of taking care of herself – but on the other hand, I’m going to miss the farm house and the creaky floor boards and the crab apples and the tire swing hanging from the tallest tree in the yard.  She ended up selling the house to a neighboring farmer who currently rent out the actual farm land.

The lesson to take from that story is don’t take anything for granted.  That old boat at the end of the dock at your cabin, the slide at the playground of the park next to your house, wherever you think you’ve already captured your favorite memories – look harder.  Look again.

Nikon D5100.  No editing.

Steven’s Point, WI.  Nikon D5100. No editing.

Above is my ultimate “different perspective” photo.  It’s an old old old make-shift fence my grandfather put around Grandma’s little garden to keep the deer from eating everything.  Change your focus.  I have this picture focusing on the post and the background, too, but I like this one the best.  It’s such a small detail to focus on, something I typically wouldn’t look twice at.

That’s the whole point of photography, no matter what or where you’re shooting.  Always look at least twice!  Feel free to share your own stories about looking at things with a new perspective in the comments.

Get out there and shoot!

– Kate