How Lights Affect the Quality of Your Photo

icon Jan 13, 2021

Whether you are a professional photographer or photography is your favorite hobby, photo quality is important. Certainly, the timing and shooting angles are essential to what you capture. However, lights affect the quality of photos in the final result. Not only does it determine the brightness and darkness of a picture, but it also sets the atmosphere and tone of the shot.

photographer with camera
Image source

It brings out the texture, color contrast, and vibrance of a photo. Whether natural or artificial, lights are integral elements in photography. It all comes down to how you want your picture to look. Here is what you should know about perfect photography lighting.

Understanding Common Types of Lighting

While lighting can have multiple variations, there are some common types people can expect to deal with. Understanding such different lighting levels lets you know their effect and how to use them to your advantage. First off, you can get natural lights, artificial lights, or a combination including both. Different times of the day result in different light effects. For instance, there is twilight, blue hour, and golden hour. Each time creates a degree of light used when capturing your subject. For example, if you are shooting in blue light that comes early in the morning or right after sunset, the contrast between yellow lights and blue hue creates an artistic shot. It creates a calm effect on your picture. Depending on how you want to bring out your subject and background, we will help you to learn more about some prominent examples of lighting types. This way you know how the quality will turn out.

1. Hard and Soft Lights

Lighting types depend on the amount and intensity of light. Hard lights are intense and direct. They induce high brightness, contrast, and shadows. Hard lights are focused and grab the attention of a specific part of a picture. According to photographers on-site, your subject will have dark shadows, bright highlights, and sharp edges to shadows. Think of it as when you take a photo of something in direct sunlight or using a strong flash. Some details can be missing due to the white light effect. It can also be tricky to deal with it while photographing people, as you may get shadows on their faces.

As opposed to hard lights, soft lights give fewer shadows and they are well-balanced. The transition between brightness and shadows is more evened out. You get to see more details on the subject as this type of lighting can diffuse the background a bit. So, it is great in portraits.

2. Front, Back, and Sidelights

Directional lighting has three basic types, which are front, back, and sidelights. Determining what type you deal with is pretty easy here. It depends on where the lights shine. Simply, if the light source is in front of the subject, then it is front lighting. The drill is clear with back and sidelights. With front lights, you get a clear focus on the subject.

The light could be natural coming from the sun or your camera, especially if you are in a studio. It gives good results by lighting the whole subject. Front lights can be flat and less dramatic for predictable images. If you want to create a dramatic effect, backlighting can help you. The light source is directly behind your subject and shining into your lens. The subject details are darker and mostly unseen. The most common use for it is creating silhouettes to make your photo artistic. For instance, it can be used to paint a romantic picture of a couple under the sun. It can also be used on animals and plants.

woman with a camera in forest
Image source

As for side lighting, photographers use it to emphasize texture, add depth, and create effective portraits of people. It means that the light falls by ninety degrees on the subject, making a bright side and a dark one. It also visually defines the subject from the background, in that case, AI will work much better to remove the background from the photo. Among the three directions, side lighting creates a strong statement.

3. Artificial Lighting

In a more professional setting, artificial lighting helps to create masterpieces. Even if you add an extra flash or use a tripod, you still get to play with some artificial lights. It differs from generated studio lights or external flash units you can buy. Artificial lights offer flexibility in use and control.

In photography, lighting is an integral factor that can make or break your shots. You need to be careful of the amount, direction, and type of lighting to adjust your position accordingly. With the guide provided here, you can look for the right moment to snap your next picture.

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