Light

Chapter 1: How to Learn Lighting

In the book Light- Science and Magic, how to learn lighting. There are three principles to follow. Starting with one, the size of the light source. This is the most important thing when deciding to take a photo. It decides what shadows are created and that may change the type of reflection. Two, the three types of reflections. These are why any surface looks the way it looks. Three, some reflections only occur if the light hits within the family of angles. After that, the type of reflection that is relevant is chosen based on where it lands.

These principles are important because they are physical laws and will never change because they are from the universe. Lighting is the single most important thing in photography and is never a trend that will fade in and out. All good photography takes planning and a huge part of that is light. The time you plan does not mean anything. As long as something is planned out, you are good. That is why the principles are so important to know. They help you make the decisions faster. If you already know what you are doing, you will get it done quicker and easier.

Do’s and Don’ts are a thing everyone must learn in photography. This chapter explains why. If you are a student they suggest the class assignments should keep you busy enough. If you are a professional photographer, expanding in certain areas is key. Try and make things that come easy, more complicated. If you are a teacher, if there is something in the book you have not tried. Do it yourself first and if it is a good idea, try it out with your students.

The kind of camera is a question everyone asks about. But it really depends on the photographer more than the equipment really. You could have the nicest camera without a clue how to use it. Or you could have a poor camera, but know what you are doing. What pictures would turn out better? Chances are the one you know how to use. Although, there are cameras that do a better job when it comes to what you are shooting. Just do your research first before buying.

Chapter 2: Light, The Raw Material of Photography

What is light to begin with? Light is an energy called, electromagnetic radiation. This radiation travels through space in small groups called photons. Photons are just energy with no mass whatsoever. No matter how many photons there are, it still will not weigh a thing. The energy produced creates an electromagnetic field surrounding the photon. This field for example is a magnet and what you see when two magnets react with one another. The energy of a photon is like this, but kind of different. The photon is not constant in strength like the magnet. It changes as the photon travels. When you look at a light beam you will notice that it does not attract metal like a magnet. Instead, it moves from zero to maximum strengths then back to zero again. Then it repeats that pattern in the opposite direction. It is positive half the time and negative half the time. So it is typically at a charge of zero. Photons travel through space at the exact same speed. In the electromagnetic field, it is different. Photons can be faster than others. The human eye can see this difference. Different colors of light have different energies. Red lights have less energy than blue lights. The electromagnetic field fluctuation is only a third as fast.

Brightness is important. Brightness is the only thing photographers need really. The brighter the light the better. Simply if the light is not bright enough you cannot get the picture, but also if it is too bright it is blinding. Photographers prefer dimmer light typically when there is an “aesthetic improvement”. Videographers use a smaller aperture. This helps create a more clear and precise picture.

Light comes in many colors. Meaning we can use any one of them. This especially comes in handy when doing artistic photography. Most pictures contain white light. White light can come in many colors. White light is white in photography when it is mixed with one of the three primary colors. We as people see those colors as colorless in light. The eye can detect a change in color mixtures. The brain does not let the person notice the difference. If there is a good amount of primary color in the light, the brain will still perceive it as white. Photographers must notice this because digital cameras do the same thing. This is where the color temperature scale comes in handy. It is based on heating the material hot enough to the point where it will glow. So it is measured in degrees Kelvin. Cool colors often have a higher temperature because they are brighter. 10,000 K of light is mostly blue. 2000 K of light is often red or yellow. Photographers use daylight and tungsten levels typically and those range from 5500 K being daylight and 3300 K being tungsten.

Chapter 3: The Management of Reflection and The Family of Angles

There are a few types of reflections. Diffuse, Direct, and Polarized Direct.

Diffuse reflections are the same brightness no matter the angle. The light sources are all reflected equally. In this chapter, they use a white card as an example. A white card gives off only a diffuse reaction. All three cameras pointing at the card receive the same brightness. White things appear white always no matter the angle. If you compare white and black objects from different angles, the black objects can change, but the white always stays the same.

Direct reflections are a mirror image of the light sources. Instead of a white card being an example they used a small mirror. One camera sees a blinding light and the others see no reflection at all. Light rays bounce off the smooth surface between the angles of the light source, the subject, and the camera's viewpoint. There is only one angle at which you can see that light.

Polarized direct reflection is similar to ordinary direct reflections. Only one camera in the example would be able to see this reflection. But this light is a lot dimmer in comparison. It is exactly half as bright. This is because the molecules in the polarizing filter “block the oscillation of light energy in one direction”. The two polarizing filters being crossed creates a block in the transmission of light. None of it is visible when the polarizers overlap. Different subjects can produce a different amount of polarized reflection. Glossy things produce more while matte surfaces do not. It is more visible on black and transparent surfaces than white.

The Family of Angles

Surfaces are made up of an infinite number of points. Small lights produce hard shadows and larger lights soften shadows. The family of angles is important for photographers because it lets you know where the light should be placed. Light rays reflect off metal or glass always. Light is easy to determine with those because it reflects off directly. This creates control. Once they can control something then it can become a useful and teachable tool.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store