10 lighting facts that will change your photos

Lighting facts that will change your photos

Without wasting time, today we will talk about the 10 facts about lighting that many people let go unnoticed, but that will be the whole foundation for your photos.

Yes, I know I have been more relapsing with the posts in recent months, but all this is part of a plan. And I promise one day I’ll tell you.

But today we go straight to what matters, and in photography what matters most is light. So today I will put here 10 photos about lighting that will help you improve your photos.

The bigger the light source, the smoother the light

One very simple thing that not everyone knows is that the size of the lighting makes a big difference in your photos. And one of the first great facts about lighting that will enhance your photos is that the larger the light source it is, the smoother it is.

Behind the scenes of recording an interview with a woman in a library. Lighting facts that will change your photos

With a large light source you dim shadows, reduce contrast and suppress texture. With a wide source, the rays of light reach the subject in more directions, which tends to fill shadows and give a more uniform illumination to the scene.

You don’t need any studio equipment to implement this in your own photography. Placing the subject of your portrait near a large, bright window that doesn’t get direct sunlight essentially creates a free light box.

The closer the light source, the smoother the light

This one is fully connected to the first point, the further you move the light source away from objects, the harder the light becomes. The closer the subject the light is, the bigger it will become relative to what you are photographed.

man staring at the camera - Think of the sun, which is something like 109 times the diameter of the earth

Think of the sun, which is something like 109 times the diameter of the earth – pretty big, right! But 93 million kilometres away, it occupies a very small portion of the sky. Being so, even being great in nature, his distance from us makes him a small source of illumination.

The result of this is that when shooting on sunny days, using only the lighting of the sun, we will always have more defined shadows which is one of the great features of hard light, or small and/or distant lighting sources.

Diffusion disperses light

First, let’s talk about diffusion. Diffusion is nothing more than putting something between the light source and the object of the photo so that it interferes with the behaviour of light. This is one of the facts about lighting that everyone forgets exists until they need it. Usually we’re talking about some interference that allows light to hit your subject. Diffusion disperses light, essentially making the light source wider and therefore smoother.

We can observe a beautiful example of this when the clouds float in front of the sun, the shadows become less distinct. The clouds are acting as diffusers. On cloudy days, the entire sky becomes a giant softbox.

If you do not have the clouds available to be able to diffuse your lights, you can use a range of other materials. From professional diffusers to bathroom curtains.

Reflected light acts as diffusion 

Every time we use the reflected light on something like it, it acts as diffused light, i.e. if you want to break down a little bit the hardness of your light source, you can try to reflect it on some surface.

Point your light at a white wall before it hits your subject, and you will see that the shadows in the photo were much more under control.

This is because you are increasing the physical size of your light source, and as we have seen at the beginning of the article everything is involved with the physical size, no jokes here huh…

A piece of crumpled aluminum paper, crumpled and then stretched on a cardboard plate, can serve as a great reflector or bouncer, it will not be as soft as a white wall, but it will be great for generating contrast and bright highlights.

The further away the light source, the weaker and darker it gets

The rule is clear if it was touched inside the area is foul, and it is penalty…..ooops wrong blog…

Anyway, the law is clear, the law of the inverse of the square of distance, which for many may seem complicated, but in fact it is quite simple and one of the 10 facts about lighting that will improve your photos that you can never forget.

Sunshine in an abandoned building

If you double the distance between the light source and the subject, you increase its effective size, but you will also lose lighting in the subject.

In other words, the light decreases quickly the further you move it away – something to keep in mind if you are moving the lights or the subject to change the quality of the light.

Light decay can be used to vary the relationship between subject light and background

Diamond patterns - In this we always have to illuminate the background separately from the main subject.

We don’t have to always light the background separately from the main subject. With that in mind, we can use the same light source to illuminate both the background and the subject at the same time.

If you bring the illumination closer to the background, the decay of the light will help to make it illuminated. And using the opposite case, moving the subject away from the background, will cause the light decay not to spread enough to properly illuminate the background.

Front lighting reduces texture

A portraitist may want to keep the light source close to the lens axis to suppress skin wrinkles, and this we call frontal lighting.

Boy in a pool looking at camera with his blue eyes - the eighth fact about lighting shows how to control textures

Generally, the greater the angle at which light is positioned relative to the object, the more texture is revealed. If you are photographing a dog and want to retain the details in the soft fur, position the light source slightly to the side, not directly.

The same rule applies when setting up a hair light.

Shadows help create volume

Having shadows in your photos, whether they’re portraits or landscapes, will help you create the feeling of volume in the photo, something three-dimensional.

Closed-eyed lady thinking - light and shadow, give personality to photo and complete the 10 facts about lighting

So it’s smart to use the shadows to your advantage when it comes to creating your lighting. In addition to this a beautiful lighting, which has areas of light and shadow, it gives personality to the photo and also help in the composition guiding the eyes of the viewer through the photo.

The backlight can be used as highly diffuse lighting

The backlit feature is widely used when we want to photograph the silhouette of something or person. But this is not the only function of this type of lighting.

Man looking at the sunset in a forest - silhouettes with natural light are one of 10 facts about lighting

It seems easy to photograph silhouettes in natural light, but in reality it is not always that easy. Even with the light coming from behind, we have a lot of reflection that will reach your subject where you don’t need to.

This can of course come in handy at some point, as this light that reflects, and it is very diffuse and soft. So you get a photo with little hard shadows on the subject’s face, for example.

Of course, you will have to control your exposure carefully in this type of situation so that the fund is not completely overexposed.

Light is colored, even when it looks white

Another one of the 10 facts about lighting has to do with the colour of the light. This is called colour temperature, and our built-in computer, eyes + brain, is very adept at adjusting our perception, so that we hardly notice these differences. Digital sensors and films, however, can record colour projections where our eyes don’t see them so easily.

The colour of early morning and late afternoon is warm, while the shade open at midday can be quite bluish. Tungsten lamps emits very yellow light. And even if you don’t notice the orange wall where the light is reflecting before it reaches your subject, it is colouring your photo.

With digital cameras, you can use white balance control to neutralize or emphasize colour projections – for example, to add a warmer tone to a landscape or portrait.
With the film, you had to choose the right film for the light in which you were shooting or compensate with filters placed on the front of the lens.

The white balance is super important on some occasions, when you need to faithfully represent a particular scene, you will have to adjust the white balance accordingly that it doesn’t change the scene.

In other cases, it is possible to use white balance as an artistic tool, effectively changing the mood of the photos just by manipulating their general colour.

As you can see, these 10 lighting facts that will change your photos, but they will also make you see your photos and light differently.

If you liked this article, consider sharing it with your friends, it helps the blog a lot and encourages me to create more article like this! Cya!

Written by Rix Mascarenhas

Rix Mascarenhas is a photographer, videographer, and drone pilot at

Art lover, always involved with crafts, design, painting etc... As a photographer, I enjoy taking pictures and creating stories that have meaning and help people to thrive. My work is guided by the stories behind each scene that really represent the moment.

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