Photography Tips: Light Sources

Lightning For Photography

The broader the light source you use, the softer the light will be on your subject. The narrower the source used, the harder the light. When you use a broad light source the shadows, contrast, and textures are all reduced and softened. The use of a narrow light source during the photo shoot will do the opposite. This happens because light rays hit your subject from more directions when a broad light source is used, the light tends to fill in the shadows and give more even illumination throughout the scene. The narrow light source is closer to the subject which reduces the lights ability to bounce around and reflect off of other surfaces.

When it comes to nature and landscape photography most new photographers confuse the sun for a broad light because it looks small in the sky, however its actually a narrow light. This is why when you are shooting mid-day you get such hard, defined edges of the shadows.

Fall Path Landscape Photograph by NAture and Landscape Photographer Melissa Fague

Landscape Photo: Fall Path by Melissa Fague

If you want softer light in your landscape photos, do not shoot with a cloudless sky. Come back to the location when the sky has clouds, the clouds will help filter the sun light and make it bounce in different directions to fill in the shadows.

For nature photography, if the subject is small enough take a piece of paper or cut piece of white cardboard with you. You can use it to reflect the sunlight into the shadowed area to soften the shadows. I have small 4″ x 6″ pieces of foam board in my camera bag, they work perfectly when I am photographing flowers.

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