Lighting 102 - Where to put the light and why to put it there.

Started Feb 1, 2004 | Discussions thread
martinto
Regular MemberPosts: 468
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Re: Lighting 102 - Where to put the light and why to put it there.(bm,nt)
In reply to Chuck Gardner, Mar 28, 2005

Chuck Gardner wrote:

Lighting 101 covered a basic of set-up for low-key studio lighting.
This lesson will explore the nuances of lighting a portrait
subject, and why the basic low-key setup is not ideal for high-key.

Creating a Center of Interest (COI).

All the tools and tricks of the trade such as composition and
lighting can only be effectively employed to lead the viewer's eye
if there is a destination in mind before the shutter is clicked.
When looking through the viewfinder, whether at the Grand Canyon or
Granny's smiling face, a photographer should know what part of the
photo is intended center of interest (COI). The COI may be a
specific area of a person such as the eyes in a portrait, the spot
where the ball meets the bat in a sports photo, or where a winding
river meets the horizon in a scenic.

Deciding on a COI guides and in many ways dictates the process of
cropping and controlling (or waiting for) lighting which will guide
the viewer's eye to the COI and hold it there. For example, in an
extreme close-up of a face the eye become such a compelling COI
that chopping off the top of the person's head to place them in the
upper third of the frame has more visual impact than showing the
entire head.

A common beginner's mistake is too include too many centers of
interest a single photograph. Whenever there is more than one COI
in a photo they create a tug-of-war for the attention of the
viewer. That type of dynamic can work well in a photograph, but
when starting to developing a critical eye it is best to isolate a
single center of interest for the photo and work to eliminate or
tone down anything else in the photo which distracts from it.

For example, in a group photo if the heads are too far apart, or
leaning in different directions the composition falls apart into a
grouping of individual portraits which will compete for the
viewer's attention. In a group photo the COI should be the entire
group as a unit, something accomplished by keeping the heads close
together and all tilting them towards the center of the photo
slightly.

Leading the eye to the center of interest

Above all else the human visual system is attracted by contrast.
This contrast can be a created by a light object in dark
surroundings (low key), a dark object on light background, two
dissimilar colors, or the size difference between two otherwise
similar objects. How a viewer will look at your photographs is
driven by this human trait.

Making the COI the lightest area in a low-key photo or the darkest
area in a high-key photo is by far the most effective way to draw
the viewer's eye exactly where you want it to go.. Conversely, it
follows that having other objects which are equally bright or
brighter than your desired center of interest will pull the eye
away from the COI. Examples of this are bright white clothing in a
low key portrait which overpowers the skin tone of the face, or a
bright sky in a landscape which pulls the viewer's eye up out of
the detail in the darker foreground and out of the top of the photo.

continued in next message ...

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