Photography lighting is a tricky thing to master. This is especially true for those who are new to photography. Fortunately, whether your goal is to be a professional photographer or just to take photos like one, there are some great lighting tips that can really help you out.

In fact, photography lighting is actually a lot easier than you might think. All you need to master it is a little know-how.


Try Front Lighting to Bring Details to Life

Whether you have professional studio lights or are creating your own photography lighting, you can often get great results with front lighting.

Front lighting is a popular type of portrait lighting that requires you to place your light in front of your subject. The light should be directly in front of the subject. This will cause the shadow to land behind the subject, getting rid of shadows and bringing out every detail in all of its glory.

This type of lighting is very easy to achieve. You definitely don’t need any legitimate studio lighting or even a lighting kit to master it. However, more complex types of lighting often do require professional lights, so it’s not a bad idea to look into your options before you start experimenting too much.


Experiment with Time and Natural Light

In addition to learning to use artificial lighting, you should also get good at practicing with natural light. Natural light can actually help you to produce some of your most beautiful images yet, and it’s entirely free too.

However, be aware that taking photos with natural lighting often takes some time and experimentation to get right. You have to understand that the light changes based on the time of day, the weather, and other factors.

Thus, do some experimenting at different times of day and in different conditions. It may take a little trial and error, but, eventually, you’ll learn what conditions will give you the results you want.


Use a Broad Light Source for Softer Light

Another great tip is that, if you want soft lighting and a soft effect, then go for a broad light source.


A broader source will effectively get rid of shadows, make texture more even across the image, and also reduce contrast. Thus, it is the perfect way to get a soft, even image every time.


Make Photos More Interesting with Side Lighting

If you’re following these tips, but finding that your photos look lifeless, flat, or just, well, a little boring, consider giving side lighting a try.

Side lighting is exactly what it sounds like. You want to position the light and/or subject in such a way that your light is hitting the subject from a side angle.

This is a great way to carefully and artistically use shadowing and contrast to create depth, though it may take a little practice to get right.

Basically, you can’t just throw the light on the side and expect the shadows to fall perfectly. Instead, you’ll want to carefully adjust the lighting position until your shadows land where you want and where they look best.


Don’t Overlook the Power of Post-Processing

Photos are complex. They feature a wide tonal range, especially when your lighting work has been appropriately thorough. In order to capture this full range, you will need to rely on some kind of post-processing software, such as Adobe Lightroom.

Just make sure that, before using such programs, you have exposed your photo in a way that will lend itself well to post-processing. Of course, like all things photography related, this can take some practice and trial and error to get right. However, experiment. Try underexposing and overexposing to vary your results. As long as you save the original, you can experiment away, learning valuable information as you go.


Keep Light Sources Close for a Softer Effect

Another tip to keep in mind, especially if you’re shooting portraits, is to keep light sources close to your subject, at least if you want a softer, more flattering type of light.

When a light source is too far away, the light becomes harsh and narrow. When it’s close, though, it’s soft and broad, as discussed earlier.

So, unless you’re taking a more artistic approach, you’re probably going to want close, soft light most of the time when you shoot.


As you can see, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to photography lighting. However, by following these tips and being willing to try things on your own, you can get very skilled at photography and at the necessary lighting that goes along with it.

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