Using light in different ways can really lift a portrait or give it mood if there are deep cast shadows. Also it can ruin a portrait if the lighting is bad and makes the person sitting for the photo appear worse, you always want to make sure the light flatters their face unless you are specifically trying to put across a certain idea.
I used my mum and a work friend to try out some different ideas just to illustrate how lighting helps with portraits. I would really like to get more involved with studio lighting and gels etc to achieve more artistic results.
In this shot I liked the way the light from outside is over exposed and creates highlights down the sides of the face and body, I metered for the light inside so that it would create the over exposed area behind, it also creates an area of negative space so that the subject stands out clearer. There is a nice eye line between my mum and our budgie she is feeding.
This shot worked well in the position my friend was in because she was facing directly into the sun so it catches her hair and makes it look really vibrant. It may have been slightly over exposed but that makes the colours pop against the plain white walls.
The issues was that as soon as she turned her head 45 degrees to look at the camera, the sun was so bright for that time of day that it cast ugly shadows across the eyes and cheeks. Panda eyes is not a look most people will be grateful for! It’s a lesson in always checking where the lighting is falling on your subject and if it is flattering or not. The post would have worked well had we readjusted around to the right a little more to eliminate the shadows.
Again for this photo I metered for the light outside and made the subject inside under exposed as I wanted to try something a little darker. I like the contrast of the obvious blue sky outside and the moody expression, it looks as though my friend is either really depressed its so nice outside or wishing she could get through the bars to it.
I changed position slightly so that most of the sky was hidden as I wanted more even tones within the picture. This time I shot for the light inside the stairwell we were in, and what worked really well is the fact the glass diffused the light very softly over Monique’s face, illuminating it in all the right places and making her facial expression the centre of attention. I’m really pleased with this shot for how well the shadows and highlights are very well balanced. Even though the external part of the building is over exposed, the tones match well with the lighting inside and the slight blur over it really makes my subject stand out. A true portrait where the image is all about the person in the image and their expression and feeling.
I would really have liked to tried out a few more techniques with some professional lighting but currently have no space to set up my kit! I’m working on it though! I want to try some very shadowy work in low light conditions to see if I can over come the challenges that would throw at me such as having to use a very slow shutter speed and high ISO yet still keep noise in the image to a minimum.
I can also now really appreciate where the use of a diffuser is so important to professional looking portraits, but it doesn't have to be an expensive affair as you can see the window did a really great job! Light can be used in such a variety of ways, but you also have to be careful of its pitfalls, but once you see these its easy to adjust either yourself, the model or the lighting if you have control over it and can get some great shots.