Welcome to the second week of our Back to Basics series. If you missed last week’s article, on better composition for stock, you’ll find it here.
Today, let’s take a look at another extremely important aspect of any saleable stock photograph: light.
Light is one of those things that can absolutely make or break your shot, so it’s important to find the right light.
But what is the right light? Well, sorry to tell you this, but… it depends!
It depends on your subject, what you are trying to show, and the mood you are trying to convey.
But to give you an idea of “good” light vs. “bad” light, check out these two photos, taken just a few seconds apart:
In the image on the left, the light is direct and harsh. It creates strong shadows and bright highlights. On the right, the sunlight is being diffused by a cloud which creates soft, even light that is much more flattering for a portrait.
You can get this same soft-light effect by putting your subject in solid shade.
But what works for a portrait doesn’t always work for a landscape or an object.
No matter what, the quality of light in a photo will have a big influence on how the viewer perceives your subject and the emotions they feel when they look at your image. Let’s check out some examples:
Time of day greatly effects the type of light you’ll find. In this shot, taken early in the morning, the light has a diffuse, ethereal quality that really creates the serene, quiet mood in the photo.
In this shot the light is coming from the side. Sidelight is a great way to bring out details, texture, and pattern. This type of light often occurs early and late in the day when the sun is low in the horizon.
Here the light is coming from behind the leaves. Backlight can help your subject stand out from the background and can highlight the edges of your subject. It’s especially great for translucent subjects such as leaves.
Remember that light can also be used to direct the viewer’s eye through your photograph. In this example, we are drawn through the image to the bright area beyond the cave where the subject is standing, looking out to the distance.
As a photographer, the number one most important thing you can do with light is this: notice it.
Instead of pointing your camera and shooting, willy-nilly, LOOK at the light in front of you. Notice the quality of it. And use it to your advantage when you shoot.
Next time you point your camera towards your subject, ask yourself these questions:
- What direction is the light it coming from?
- What is the quality of the light? Is it harsh and high contrast or soft and diffuse?
- Where are the shadows falling?
- Is your subject illuminated in a way that communicates the mood you want?
Try moving yourself or your subject to experiment shooting from different angles to your light source. Notice how this changes your subject.
This is important stuff. When you nail the light you are really taking creative control and getting one step closer to making the best images possible.
By beginning to pay close attention to matching the light with your subject, you’ll start to create photos that really impact the viewer and bring more sales to your stock portfolio!
Creator, Breakfast Stock Club
P.S. Want to take your images to the next level? Check out our Lightroom for Starters: Edit Like a Pro online workshop which begins later this month. In four days we’ll get you up and running with Lightroom, learning how to edit your photos to get more sales. Check it out here.
Your Weekly Breakfast Dish
The Latest from Your Breakfast Stock Club Facebook Page
In response to the question: what’s everyone been shooting lately?
Karen Padilla: Practicing with my new flash. Family, dogs, portraits, things and different lighting situations. Want to be ready for big trip. Haven’t used flash for a long time.
Mike Hopkins: Went to a kite competition here in Fl.
Theresa St John: Street art! Loving it!