Photograph by Evan Romine.

At least they strike me as being lit with the ‘feeling’ or ‘mood’ of the photograph foremost in mind. I have made some notes on what intrigued me about each of the images. They will get the ol’ juices goin’ for thinking about light before we think about the gear.

Each of these images seem to hold a bit of a cinematic view… shadows that are un-mitigated, soft light contrasted with contrasty light, a ‘natural’ feel that may not be natural light, but with the warmth and subtleties that draw one in. (BTW… take a look at the pool at LE Flickr… there are a lot of great images there, and this choice in no way is meant to slight the other images there.) This post comes right after the post on “Emotional Lighting”, a recent Rant.

You know, I do workshops all over the country, and some selected dates out of the country. I meet so many great photographers and beginning shooters and models and just great people where ever I go. One of the reasons I am so optimistic about the future of photography are the people I meet at the workshops. Dedicated, interested, invested, committed, and creative, there are some terrific people pursuing this wonderful art of imaging.

I also hope to see some of you at the workshops this year. We are keeping them very reasonably priced, and very exciting. New curriculum, challenges and examples to work through. More media, more notes, more hands-on. If you are thinking about a workshop this year, I hope you consider mine. Checkout Learn to Light for more information. We will be coming more into line with a lot of other workshops next year, but for now my goal is to meet and work with as many small groups as I can.

There is a lot to think about this year. Some people are saying the recession is over. I am not so sure, but I don’t feel it tanking as fast as it was. We have to be nimble and able to create more channels of income into our pockets as professional photographers. Does that mean that commercial guys start doing weddings or wedding photographers branch out into industrial? Maybe. Does it mean we all have to start shooting video? No, of course not. Should we be investigating the new tools including video? Oh… yeah, we most definitely should.

If you think things changed fast last decade, hold on to your butts. Change will come more rapidly and on more fronts than in the oughts, and that is certain. We need to be nimble and we need to adapt to the changes. Are you dabbling in social media? You better be… or it will change so fast and the learning curve / ‘buy-in’ capital will be so high that it could be ten times as daunting as it is now. Read TechCrunch for some ideas of what is coming. Social media for the enterprise and filtered for content delivery by Google and Yahoo? Yeah. If you don’t know what that means, you need to find out. It affects us all in small business.

I hope you join in and become active in taking the idea of photography by the horns. Tackle the Ideas of lighting, the nuances of lighting, and how they all tie in to posing and gesture. Both grand and small, gesture is what makes the image speak to the viewer. Even the lack of gesture is a gesture in its own right.

The 24 images you are about to see come from the Flickr Lighting Essentials Pool. I hope you join us there for more discussions, a picture sharing forum, and a chance to meet and talk to some incredible peers. We aren’t about any one kind of light, we have no mantra other than to make great photographs, and for the most part we’re pretty darned nice.

Be sure to check out the Going Pro category and if you are looking for the shorter, one page posts, hit Rants & Raves. In the recent post on “Emotional Lighting” -the one that proceeded this one, there are some links to photographers that will inspire you. Also see the “8 Essential Sites for Emerging Professional Photographers” for some places to bookmark.

Now let’s go see the images and be sure to visit the photographer’s Flickr sites after the jump.

As with all the Lighting Essentials posts, clicking on the image will take you to the photographer’s Flickr stream – and I hope you take some time to leave a comment or two.

The flare in this image takes it up a level and helps connect me to her eyes.

Bringing the face forward with the spotlight is so theatrical. Spotlights have great impact on the viewer.
Anna Balicka - Studio Photoshoot.

While we are talking about the focused light , check how the light makes something we all see (as parents) into something more evocative.
Happy Feet

Keeping the shadow adds drama to the shot… even the blank wall takes on part of the composition.
Anna Balicka - Studio Photoshoot.

I love the way the face emerges from the shadow. Very shallow DOF and the wonderful, soft lighting invite us in to the image.

A pool of light surrounds her, while a key keeps her lit in front. The rim light on her leg gives the image a cinematic look. In total keeping with her outfit.
New Project 6

She gazes off toward the light. The light becomes a part of the shot as it lights the area behind her and then falls off in the direction that she is looking. Classic cinematic approach.
Look up

Simply exquisite crop, and light makes this image so strong and revealing. I love how the sides of the face fall off leaving a very nice, clean light on her center face. Light is part of the emotion of the image.

Such beautiful backlight, and the way the tree limbs are in and out of the light makes you feel like you are there. Love this kind of light.

Letting the background burn in so hot sets the mood of this glamour shot. Front lighting is just contrasty enough to make it believable while still well lit.

Ashley, Shanghai Restaurant, Lethbridge

The sidelight sculpts the masculinity so well. And with the subtle light on the background (shadow of the subject side) it really draws the viewer in. The very judicious use of the rim light sets the image off from the background.
Day 133 - Inspiration

The DOF and bright lights behind her add to the overall feeling of flare to the image. Her slightly bottom lit face also lets us know that she is engaged in the event at hand.
Warm Light Portrait

Everything works so well here. Pose, attitude, gesture and light. The emotion of emerging or ‘new’ (hope) is heavily felt.
One Light - Caleb Brundidge

Soft light and colors let the subject be a part of the environment while keeping her well lit. Careful placement kept the subject from ‘melding’ into the white gate.

The soft, but directional light adds dimension to this shot. I particularly love the shadow of the cigarette and under her chin. Pose and lighting working so well together.

Can’t you just feel the warmth in this shot? Exceptional use of flare and gesture.

Color, pose and light working together to provide a wonderful sense of place for the subject.

Sculpting the face from all angles and then adding a slight vignette, this portrait really draws in the viewer. Cinematic and powerful.
I need a shave....

It’s all about the light in this exceptional edge/form headshot.

Using the light to enhance the pose and the environment. The light behind her brings some mystery to the image.
Winter Shoot, Hardieville, Alberta

The softness of the light on her with the contrasty light behind makes this shot seem like a frame from a story. Intrigue and beauty.

The feeling of an off camera light source, bringing the shadow in front, is so cinematic. You can almost hear the light here.

Subtle back light and a soft ambient foreground give this image a spark that adds drama. it doesn’t have to be a big gesture of back light, sometimes just a hint will do.
XLCR Moon: Elf Fighter

The light wraps the ballerina almost like a mist. The background seems to lift her off of it and ‘present’ her to the viewer.

Thanks for visiting Lighting Essentials. I hope this post entertained you and gave you something to think about before you pull out the gear. Lighting for effect, emotional effect, is quite a powerful tool.


Spend a Day Shooting Portraits
“Why Did You Light It That Way?”
Natural Light for Natural, Subtle Beauty
Thinking About Portraits: 6 Studies in Beauty
And don’t forget the Going Pro Series for emerging photographers.

For the “Rants and Raves” section, click here.

See you next time. Follow me on Twitter, or visit my Learn to Light site for information on my

lighting workshops.

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