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Making Photographs - a tutorial by Philip Greenspun

Lighting Tips for Photography

Photography requires a few skills to make your prints look professional. One part of making a print professional is lighting. Lighting in photography takes a little planning and understanding of a few techniques. You best subject or object might not turn out that way if the proper light does not help to laminate the area. Below are a few tips on using light for photography.

Of course, art is a subjective thing. Many people would look at a Jackson Pollack "splatter" artwork and determine most definitely that modern art is not art because it "doesn't look like anything." And if you spend any time in the modern art world, you will definitely see something at some time along the way occupying space in a perfectly respectable art museum that, to you, could never be considered art.

So is it just a matter of opinion? To some extent, yes. But there is an art world and an industry behind it that depend on there being some standards upon which art is judged. One such standard is the intent of the artist. If you produce a photograph or an art work derived from a photograph that is intended to be viewed as art, then the viewer is obligated to try to see the artistic merit in it. Whether the viewer sees that merit or not may depend on the viewer's abilities, how good you are at getting your artistic message across or many other factors.

The flash will bounce the light back at the picture. The next step is to get as close to the glass as possible. The third consideration is the angle. Taking the picture head on of the object will bounce the light and shadows about. You will need to angle the camera to the side or up from the ground to attain the photograph. If you do not have glass in the way the angle will still be important, especially when taking portraits. Shooting any subject head on is likely to create shadows and take away from the print. The best angle for shooting portraits is often up into the face.

When shooting faces or other objects you usually want a three dimensional contrast. You will need to search for the planes and contours of the subject, especially in portrait photography. The planes and contours will help you determine the angle you will shoot the subject from. The shadows will often provide the three dimensional contrast if you find the correct planes and angle to shoot from. This helps with pictures that you want to stand-alone.

So that might also be an evaluation of a photograph as to its artistic merit or not. Now the primary objection to whether photography is art sometimes is that a photograph is often a realistic depiction of a moment taken with a machine and some would say that "anybody can take a picture." The implication is that the same mechanical skill it might take to paint a picture of sculpt a statue is not needed for photographic art.

It's true that the mechanical skill that the guy at Wal-Mart might need to take baby pictures may be the same as a great photographic artist might need. But the objection doesn't hold up because the same human language is used to create great poetry as it takes yell out obscenities at a baseball game. So it isn't the skill that makes it art.

Artificial lighting has advantages over outdoor or natural lighting, but sometimes the picture turns out better with natural light. It might be a matter of preference or the desire of a client or subject for that matter. You never have artificial lighting outside for the most part; you usually rely on your camera flash to help with the picture quality. When you choose your lighting, look for the best lighting situation to enhance your subject and make your picture as natural as possible.

About the Author
Starting to know Digital Photography is better on many points. Classes have begun and new sources have risen. Now you can read all about tips on lighting