DPP Home Technique Camera Technique Urs Recher: Light Lessons

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Light Lessons

A master of technique walks us through a series of situations and explains how to craft illumination

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Camera Format: Medium-format with digital back
Resolution/ISO: 22 MP/ISO 50 Focal Length: 120mm Shutter Speed: 1⁄125 sec. ƒ-stop: ƒ/8
To craft a photograph is to craft the light. While it’s often relegated to a subordinate role to composition, lighting is at least as critical to the photograph and should be thought of as an integral part of the process. In this article, I’ll give you a sense of how light functions theoretically and practically so that when you’re lighting your next set, you’ll have new ideas to get the look you want.

Before we analyze photos and setups, let’s briefly examine light and its rules. This helps to understand why a particular light modifier is used and, just as important, where and how it should be placed. We must understand the setups and shouldn’t try to learn them by heart or copy them like a recipe from a cookbook! When we understand the rules, we no longer have to hope for good results and can determine how to modify the light until we get the effect we want.

Our technical abilities in forming light must not limit our creative vision! With a thorough understanding of light, we can start to forget about the technical aspects of our work and concentrate on the visual, the emotion, the moment and the model.

1) Pulsoflex C 60x100cm on a Pulso G lamp base
P65 normal reflector with honeycomb grids on a Pulso G lamp base
Black/white cardboard (the black side toward the lens)
4) Reflecting wall
Dark gray background paper
6) Camera
Image 1
The Pulsoflex C was placed very close to the model and directed more toward the camera than to the model’s face. Due to the soft-edge transfer of the Pulsoflex C, you get nice gradations on both sides of the face, not only on the shadow side.

Although the softbox was very close, the light remained hard, from the model’s perspective; only a very narrow strip light could be seen. As such, this light emphasizes the structure of the skin and is best used with models having very good skin. The cardboard (3) controlled the shadows on the right side of the model’s face, and the reflecting wall (4) controlled those on the left.

The high color saturation of the light makes it perfect for makeup shots, and the narrow highlights put a cat-like accent on the eyes.


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