photography light directionLighting is important in photography, whether it is a studio portrait or an outdoor landscape. It gives detail, depth, and emotion to the image. In the same way, the source and the direction from which light comes from and strikes the subject, relative to the position of the camera, has a significant effect on color, form, and texture in the photo.

There are three kinds of lighting and we would discuss each one of them and their uses.

Frontlighting is the most common. The light source falls squarely on the front of the subject. Auto-exposure systems handle frontlighting well because it is even.

Frontlights produces bold, saturated colors, but can wash out some colors if overdone. The disadvantage is that since all the shadows are blotted out and falling behind the subject, frontlit scenes lack a sense of depth.

Here is where other light sources are used to produce more shadow. Sidelighting comes from the left or right side of the subject. Since the light is traversing across, it catches every surface bump, leaving a trail of light shadows and highlighting surface textures.

Sidelighting is ideal for landscapes where you want to present the tactile qualities of a subject. Sidelight also imparts form to objects. Sidelighting also works for portraits because it creates a delicate modeling of facial features.

Finally, backlighting can produce theatrical effects, especially with landscapes. Shadows coming towards the camera exaggerate details like depth and distance. They also help lead the eye into the scene.

When backlighting is used behind partially translucent objects, it creates an effect called rim lighting. This separates the subject from its surroundings. As a reminder, backlit portraits may need to increase exposure by a few stops over the metered value to keep the face being lost in shadow or may need to use flash fill instead. In outdoor shots, keep the sun out of the frame or it will give you underexposed photos.

In outdoor photography and in practicality, one can change the apparent direction of lighting by shifting locations. Walk a few steps or take a shot from a different angle.