Studio Lighting

Studio Lighting Workshop held at iMedi8 Studios and faciliated by Charles Heiman on Saturday 19 March 2011.

Principles of light

Seven ways to control light

1. Varying the Position
Changing the angle of your light position is what will allow your flash to define the three-dimensional shape of your subject. This is where on-camera flash fails us. It illuminates, but does not reveal shape. Getting your light off of the camera is the most basic control, so it is our first of the seven.
In addition to varying the angle of your light source, you can also dramatically change the effect of your light by varying the distance to the subject. In particular, altering the distance of the light to the subject as it relates to the distance from the light to the background

2. Varying the Apparent Size of the Light Source
In photography, size does not matter. Apparent size matters. How a subject sees your light source will determine many things.
Size of light source can be altered by reflection off of a diffuse surface, or transmission through a translucent material. In addition to changing the apparent size of the light source, this will lower the intensity per square inch. This, in turn, will alter the way your light interacts with your subject.
The various surface properties of your subject come into play with your light source, and you can exploit those variable

3. Altering the Relative Intensity
This is about balancing light - with the ambient, other strobes, lightning, glowing swamp gases, whatever.
It is not about the light level. That is easily compensated for by your exposure settings. The magic is in the relative light levels, and where you place your exposure settings with respect to your various light intensities.

4. Restricting Light
Even more important than where your light goes is where it does not go.
Snoots, grids, gobos, cookies, (man-made and natural, oatmeal and chocolate chip) beam-width adjustment, feathering - it’s all good.

5. Refraction and Reflection
You do it without thinking about it every time you zoom your flash. That little fresnel lens in the front bends your light to suit your mood. Or at least your lens. But there are other ways to bend light.
Water, glass, mirrors, the extreme gravity around a black hole - whatever it takes.

6. Altering the Colour
We’re talking gels, gels, gels and more gels. Sure, white light is clean and predictable, but you have a whole color spectrum to play with. You can look at the basic color correction stuff, but also look at altering light color to develop a theme in a photo.
There are subtle things you can do, and not-so-subtle things. Most people are about as subtle as a ball-peen hammer when they start out with gels. But, just as the vinophiles will tell you, the real fun is in the slight variations.
Layering colors from a given family, complimentary color cross lighting, deliberate in-camera color balance shifting and more.

7. Time
Flash is impossibly brief, but continuous light is variable with respect to time duration. This gives us another creative lever to exploit.
Yes, light is light. But elapsed time adds a fourth dimension to a three-dimensional world, and offers results that simply cannot happen in a single instant.