Light is ridiculously simple and infinitely complex all at once. It’s like music, take a few notes and you can create a masterpiece. But you need to know where you’re going, what you want to create. In other words, mastery. Learning to “see” the light.
Just like learning to play the piano, or the guitar, or the sax, learning light isn’t about buying lights or throwing a flash on camera. When you get to a scene, it’s about seeing what is available and using it, like any tool, and create a masterpiece. Even if it’s a portrait of a two year old. (which also requires an extra dash of timing, luck and patience)
Check it out, from the summer time….two scenes, very similar, where I maximized the lighting available.
We were facing north, and there were some soft streaks of light coming in from behind this scene, creating some “kicker” light:
The final results, almost near perfect studio type lighting. Yes, I did get lucky to some degree, since this was an active two year old. But I had an idea where I was going, what I hoping to achieve, and a willingness to act crazy to get her attention for a nano second. (you won’t have much luck with two year olds unless you’re willing get a little nutty. They “get” nutty…):
Same area, different scene, a younger boy. Arrow on the left indicated where I was standing during the shot. Notice that behind me is the north sky.
Arrow on the right is where the boy is standing. The light coming in from his left, our right, makes for near perfect portrait lighting on location.
Working with lighting on location and “seeing the light” takes time and practice. Force yourself to see the light, the light source, the possible kicker lights and stop, think, analyze for best results during your on location portrait sessions.
I used to really struggle with this, especially when working with people. I’d get flustered, nervous and couldn’t focus on the job at hand. With time and persistence I feel very confident when working with light.
Yours in success in photography,