Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Simplify Your Lighting
Less is often more when it comes to crafting beautiful illumination
|This Article Features Photo Zoom|
Outdoor photographers and those who shoot athletes in motion, as Markewitz does, have a very practical reason to keep their lighting to a minimum: It makes travel and setup much easier. It's also helpful to keep the shoot flowing smoothly instead of devoting precious minutes to tweaking a number of sources. But what if you're shooting in the studio, with a subject that won't move an inch? Studio still-life photographers also demonstrate a reason to keep lighting simple: It can communicate more clearly.
Product and beverage specialist Martin Wonnacott has 10 Profoto packs and more than two dozen heads at his disposal. Sometimes he uses lots, other times only a few. The key, he says, no matter what you're shooting, is to create light that appears simple and natural—even when it's not.
"Lighting should feel natural, however it's applied," Wonnacott says, "be that a complex setup in the studio or on location. That doesn't always mean to use one light only, but that should be the aim to achieve visually. What you shouldn't feel is that someone has turned on everything that they have at their disposal. Natural—even if it's an unnatural situation—that should always be the aim."
A meaningful understanding of light is crucial whether you're working with several sources or just a few. With many lights in play, it ensures that the photographer isn't working against himself or herself by having lights in conflict, casting counterproductive shadows and highlights throughout a scene. Shooting with lots of lights isn't a remedy for poor technique; in fact, with many sources, the flaws are amplified.
"If you were to come into the studio, you may be shocked," she says. "He uses top-of-the-line camera equipment, but his set—he uses very little. It's what he's always done. We've been in business 35 years now, and he's very pleased with his results, as are his clients. We, too, have been a little intimidated when we see in some of the professional magazines what other photographers' sets look like. For the client, it clearly is very impressive. We don't put on a show there. That's not where his show is. The show is in his pictures.
"Whatever happened to simplicity?" Mrs. Togashi continues. "He doesn't add a light to get it just right. He tweaks with other things in order to make the highlights look delicious or to bring out a beautiful edge. Those are some of the tricks of his expertise and years of experience instead of a light. You can achieve light without lights.
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