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The Eyes Have It

November 9, 2011

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” Amateurs worry about equipment, Professionals worry about time, Masters worry about light” –Anonymous

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  The word photograph literally means “graph or record of light”. Elegant lighting, natural or man-made, is the key to compelling images.

   Landscape photographers spend a lot of time waiting for the light, and will often visit a location multiple times to get the shot. They depend on natural light.

   Smaller subjects, say an elephant or smaller, lend themselves to a second option, man-made light. This light may be continuous light, studio strobes or battery-powered flash.

   Light is light, natural or man-made. Snapshot flash photos look so poor because the light is very close to the lens (flat) and comes from a very small source (hard). Getting the flash off the camera solves the “flat” issue. Bounce it off, or through, a surface larger than the 2×3 inch flash lens and you get softer light.

   Often you can determine the shape and location of light sources by looking closely for reflective surfaces, especially curved ones. Eyes are reflective (red-eye in flash photos),and curved.

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T h e   S e t   U p

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Note the size, location and intensity of each of the 3 lights here.

(click on image, then click again to enlarge)

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T h e   S h o t

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Olaf’s eyes give away the shape, size, location and intensity of two of the lights, and some Sherlock Holmes style deduction will give away the third. And if you know how they did it, you can do it yourself!

(click on image, then click again to enlarge)

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   Any camera that has a flash can be made to trigger these flashes including simple point and shoots. Pillow cases or sheets etc. can take the place of the umbrella and diffuser. $150 in lighting and you can sell crap on e-bay like crazy (stuff looks better lit better), and you can take delightful portraits of the family. To hell with JC Penny.

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From → Technique

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