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April 20 , 2011

Shaping Light

Use Light Modifiers to Create Amazing Studio and Location Photographs


Whether shooting portraits or products, skillful lighting can be the difference between a bland snapshot and a stunning, well-defined image. Capturing the ideal photograph requires many technical factors to work in tandem, the most fundamental of which is lighting. While we may take it for granted that light is required to create a photograph, light by itself usually does not produce the style, energy, emotion or feeling that makes a photograph exceptional. It is the way the light has been modified and shaped that gives the photographer the ability to create an image that communicates their feeling about the subject. It’s necessary to understand how light works in order to know how to modify it in the most desirous way.
Beginning with simplified light concepts, Rand delves into the basics of light. Light’s natural tendency is to go off in all directions. To give a better understanding of how to control the light that you use in your photographs, Rand guides the reader through a series of discussions defining the light itself, the surfaces that will interact with the light in the photographs, the look of light that we wish to create and the tools, modifiers and shapers that are commonly available for use. Whether you want to add contrast with highlights and shadows or use the softness of diffuse light to add volume to the subject, the fundamentals of these concepts are covered here. Images, diagrams and descriptions are used to illustrate the manners in which light can be modified.
From there, the book moves onto the main tools of light modification. Rand discusses the primary functions of each tool and defines the issues of the light’s characteristics after the modification. Techniques are presented for using reflectors, spotlights, softboxes, diffusers, umbrellas, barndoors, gels, scrims, shoots and more. Each chapter is highly illustrated with images of the tools being discussed, diagrams, and examples for the use of these tools in both commercial and portrait photography. Variations in control and problems that may occur with specific modifiers are discussed as well.
The goal of this book is to show the effect of modifiers and shapers on the quality of light rather than to discuss the merits of a particular light source. By focusing on the methods to shape light, the photographer is open to improvise in scenarios where they may not have control over the light source. Whether you shoot commercial or portrait photography, this book provides you with the basis for not only successfully, but elegantly shaping light to create your desired result.
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