How to Light an Image


Giving adequate provision to lighting your shots can increase the value of your pictures significantly. The art of the photographer is not so much in selection of the location and the subject, but more to how they are lit. It is light that creates your photo for you, according to William Schoellkopf. By applying these basic photography lighting tips for your work, you will see immediate improvements.

The most basic of all photography lighting basics is in the layout of all light sources. Light should come from three independent sources, which in the industry is known as triangulation. The first is the key light which should be positioned behind you. Second of these is the backlight which should be positioned behind the subject. Third amongst these are your fill lights which in essence can be placed anywhere. These are used to shine light onto the subject, to reduce shadowing and create depth and perspective.

Shooting inside is markedly different from being outside. If you are shooting in direct sunlight, this should take the form of key light, (it is unlikely you will find a more powerful light source!). If, however, it is a dull day, you can use the sun for backlighting and fill lighting. Nighttime shooting indoors will require an understanding of how all light sources work together, before you can decide how to move forward.

Your craft as a photographer is to control the light and shadow, and how it falls onto your subject. These are controlled by the fill lights, which are all too often set too bright. Be sure to check this again and again, to ensure you don’t get a washed out image.

It is important that the key light be the brightest light, suggests William Schoellkopf, as it is from this light you can work with the others. Backlights and fill lights should be dimmer, and all lights can be easily controlled. As discussed, outdoor lighting needs to be ruled by the sun, so do be prepared to move with the Earth.