Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Side Lighting is the Best Portrait Lighting

I may get into some trouble for saying that but it is a statement I am willing to defend.

When I look at the lighting in my favorite shows, like House, Fringe, etc, I always see side lighting on the faces of the actors. It adds more drama and defines the faces of the actors. The lines on the face are clearly more visible, more edgy, and, as I've said, more dramatic. I actually don't know if I've already seen an actor lit from the front. I see it in fashion shows, but I can't recall seeing it from the more dramatic and/or suspenseful shows. Or, I may have already seen some but they didn't register to me; not compelling enough?

I made this photo of the wife with a Canon 5D Mark II and a Canon 430-EX II speedlite. There is a white wall on camera-right and I bounced the light from the speedlite towards the wall. The light then travelled from the wall towards my subject's face. What was produced was a nicely-lit photo of the wife (@PinayObserver). (Well, of course, I am biased...)

So, after you got that shiny, new DSLR, what's next on your list should be an external flash. Movie makers know it, professional photographers know it, even Renaissance painters knew it: side lighting is best for portrait lighting.

Coincidentally, if you wanna know about those Renaissance paintings, I wrote about Rembrandt Lighting here.

Want the best bag for your DSLR? I reviewed my most favorite camera backpack, the Lowepro Versapack 200 AW, here and here.

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