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Learning About Light

When I went back to photography in 2011, I told myself that I would learn everything I could about it. The last time I picked up a 35mm was when my children were little. I gave it up because at that time consumer video cameras were the latest thing in photography – you know the ones that were large and sat on your shoulders – and I thought the kids would enjoy the videos once they got older… and they do.


In 2011, I took workshops and found the more I learned, the less I knew, especially about lighting in various scenarios. Natural light, strobes, constants…and on and on… A few years later I decided to devote one year to learning just about light because light is everything in an image. It can create a bad photo, make it just so-so, but when it works, it can be phenomenal. And that’s what I want every time I shoot a portrait. I’m still learning and it’s the one area along with posing that gets me nervous and what I am always practicing.


Lately, I’ve been doing self-images with different lighting set-ups using my Elinchrom strobe set. I have 2 square 27” soft boxes, 2 umbrellas both shoot – through and black with silver inside. I also have 2 round reflectors 32” and 50” in diameter. This was basically a starter kit purchased the same year I decided to concentrate on lighting. It’s gets pretty tiring setting the timer on your camera and running to get in front of the camera trying different poses with different lighting setups, but I’m learning more about the direction of light, then I thought I would. It’s made me more sensitive to the position of my hands and overall posing. Each practice I’m going to devote to one light setup with different poses. So far, my favorites are the clamshell and the Rembrandt, as I go along, I’ll experiment using hard and soft light, combining light with different colored gels. Light is intimidating, but I find I’m enjoying the process of capturing it in different ways.


So if you are learning about light, I recommend setting the camera timer, and jumping in front of the camera yourself, it’s a great way to start!


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