How to think of a lighting scheme


In advertising photography before taking a picture you think about the positioning, the power and color of the lights whether they are flash or continuous, in underwater photography thinking how to light the scene before us does not, or however often the underwater photography are linked to positions standards of its flash, often with the result of having, is, the subject well lit but also obtain almost flat illumination from passport photo.

If we want to create lighting that enhances the subject, first of all, we must take off from the mind of fixed flash positions and study the subject to choose the best one; certainly in the photo environment with fish eye it was almost forced to use the flash in a certain position otherwise enter the field of view, but in macro photography we have the opportunity to indulge ourselves and direct our flash in order to enhance both the subject and background. To obtain the maximum freedom is useful to use of the arms not too short but not too long, the articulated arms in two sections by 25cm for each flash I find that are optimal, since it allows both to remove the flash which to approach them very closing the arm.

First let’s look at the different lights:

Main light:
It is the main light where we make the exposure and it is the first that we have to think about is how to position it as a power as it is the one that will help us to position and think about lighting.

Fill Light:
It use for  lighten the shadows produced by the main light, it usually has slightly less power to the Main (½ stop, max. 1Stop). If he had the same power will get a flat light.

Light Background:
We use the strobe to illuminate the background or we can use a backlight background.
So either we use a flash to illuminate or we can use the sun to light up the background; in macro photography it is more difficult to use the sun’s ambient light to ensure that the background is illuminated because we will be forced to use slow times we can compromise the sharpness of the image, while using a strobe we can use fast times.

Instead the environment photography exploit the ambient light to illuminate the background and natural light is part of the thought pattern lights (usually).
The background light can be more powerful or less of the main light but not equal to not have a flat image.

Light from back:
I stronger light of the main light to the maximum of 1  stop usually to prevent unsightly burns.
The light detachment arrives from behind the subject and serves to detach it from the background and at the same time draw the outline of the subject itself.
For simplicity is positioned at 45 ° around behind the subject or from the right or left, but we direzionarla from above or directly behind the subject with the difficulty, however, to hide the target.

During the process of the mental creation lighting scheme we have to think that for every light source we find a shadow on the other side, this shadow we can use it to embellish the image or to make the subject stand out.

As a source of light in addition to the flash we can use the sunlight as for example when we use the surface as a background.

Background with shadows created by the ripples of the waves

Background with shadows created by the ripples of the waves

more homogeneous background with less shadows

More homogeneous background with less shadows

A single light source with a 45 ° tilt allowed to draw the shadows that created the illusion of the third dimension.

The main light illuminated the face and the left side to the left of the animal’s picture, while the detachment of light from behind a little ‘stronger allowed to draw the outline of the nudibranch detaching it from the background.



The main light has illuminated the front of the animal and has commanded the exposure while the detachment light from the left and from behind allowed to bring out the subject while having the same color as the background

The use of two flash places frontally to one another with the subject in the middle allows to illuminate the subject from both sides leaving him little or no background illuminated. If we take a slightly less powerful than the flash we can create some light shade that allows us to give three-dimensionality to the subject.

The snoot can be used as the sole source of light but also within a lighting scheme, as in this picture where a flash left partially illuminated the background and the main flash to the right with snoot lit up the muzzle of the fish by creating a blade of light.







About Author

Cristian was born in 1976 Reggio Emilia and lives with his wife Alessia near Portofino. Cristian and Alessia are Italian professional photographers and specialize in wedding and advertising photography. They work for Seac Sub, Scubapro, Mares, Veleria San Giorgio and some 4 star hotels in the Italian Riviera. Cristian started to shoot underwater photography seriously at age of 13 and has never stopped since. In 2011, Cristian and Alessia made aa underwater photography manual for an Italian editor “La Fotografia Subacquea in Digitale”. Cristian collaborates with Scubaportal, Scubazone and Scubashooters.

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