It’s all about light

It’s all about light

Light. It’s what photographers obsess about.

Whether you’re a landscape photographer or a portrait photographer (or any kind of photographer), you can deploy light to evoke mood in your images.

We all have our go-to lighting… mine’s side-lighting and back-lighting. They allow shadows to dominate, pull our attention to the cool bits of the image, and really make for super-dramatic images.

Here’s a landscape and a portrait – both lit using side-lighting (the light filtering in from the side, almost perpendicular to camera axis). Side-lighting picks up on certain aspects of the subject/scene, while keeping other parts in shadow. If you shoot during the golden hours, the lighting is warmer.

Mist on the water, side-lit.
Side-lit portrait of Drew.

As viewers, our gaze are drawn to the bright bits that emerge from the dark, and the shadows work as a kind of negative space that pushes the gaze to the lit parts of the subject or scene.

And here’s a back-lit landscape and portrait — shot where the light (out of frame) is high and behind the scene or subject. Back-lighting shows us even less of the scene or subject and allows us to literally “paint” a dark canvas with light.

Backlit landscape of hills and dam
Backlit portrait of Darran.

In the portrait, shot with the aperture wide open, the backlight bleeds into the lens, creating a soft flare effect that can give an other-worldly or vintage look to your image.

Side- and back-lighting can take a bit of effort and experience to learn and master, but the evocative images that they produce make it well worth the effort!

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