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The Key to Dramatic Lighting
by Xavier DeLaPaz


You and I and millions of others take pictures with digital cameras. To do so we depend on light of some kind or other, and yet so many of us do not understand the nature, function or correct use of light to produce an effective picture. The kind of image would make you stop to take in the beauty and the complexity of highlights to shadow detail. To know what you want and to be able to recognize it when you get it…this is the secret of good lighting. There are several ways you can develop your ability to see with a lighting masters eye. Never pass up a chance to study a lighting effect you like, whether it be an actual scene or in a photograph. If you are interested in portraits, take a favorite book of photography, such as one of many books available at Arlington Camera, and try to imagine how the photographers placed their lights to achieve the effect in the portraits. Look at the catch lights in the subject's eyes. How many are there? If it is the customary single catch light in each eye, where would the light source have had to be placed? Take the time to understand lighting equipment and how to use the tools of the trade. So many photographers know how to add light but few know how to subtract it.

Just as a carpenter would have many different woodworking tools, a lighting master would have a variety of different soft boxes. An excellent supply would include 3ft, 5ft, 7ft Octa, 2x2, 3x4, 4x6, 5x7 soft box, 10x36, 12x50 strip) Other valuable equipment would be flags, gobos, cutters, liteshapers and other light modifying devices. To look at and understand hard light, soft light and no light, and then to experiment and learn how to mix them that is the key to dramatic lighting! Take a look at my selection of images and study the light. What type of light modifiers might I have used? How many lights were used? The best piece of information that I was ever taught is the bigger the source of light, the softer the light will be. The light will appear to wrap around your subject. As an innovator of photographic light modifying tools, I believe lighting is one of the biggest keys to a great photograph!


Click here to download a printable version of The Key to Dramatic Lighitng.

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Arlington Camera, Inc.    544 W. Randol Mill Road    Arlington, Texas 76011
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