Start learning with our library of video tutorials taught by experts. Get started

The Elements of Effective Photographs

One-light setup


From:

The Elements of Effective Photographs

with Natalie Fobes

Video: One-light setup

We've talked about the message of light, but now let's take a look at how to create it. This is Margo, and she's going to be helping us out today. Thank you so much for coming in. We'll start with a simple one-light setup. This will be our main, or key, light. To better illustrate this, let's bring down the house lights and I'll fire this one up. You can see, as I move this light around, how the contours in her face really change.

Watch this entire course now—plus get access to every course in the library. Each course includes high-quality videos taught by expert instructors.

Become a member
Please wait...
The Elements of Effective Photographs
1h 36m Beginner Aug 30, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, Pulitzer-nominated photographer Natalie Fobes takes viewers into the studio and on location to explore the many elements that combine to make an effective photo.

The course explores compositional elements that guide a viewer's eye, including the rule of thirds; leading lines, patterns, and curves; and depth of field. Natalie then details the roles of color and light in a photo. She shows how to work with the natural light in a room or outdoor location, and how to enhance it using reflectors, newspapers, a T-shirt, or whatever might be handy. She also shows some simple indoor lighting setups that can replicate the look of natural light.

The course continues with a look at movement and how a photographer can convey a sense of motion by blurring part of the image or freezing a fast-moving subject. Next, Natalie explores the concepts of peak action and the decisive moment—those split seconds that capture the essence or emotion of a subject or scene. The course wraps up with a discussion of the roles of planning and research in creating effective photos.

Subjects:
Photography Photography Foundations
Author:
Natalie Fobes

One-light setup

We've talked about the message of light, but now let's take a look at how to create it. This is Margo, and she's going to be helping us out today. Thank you so much for coming in. We'll start with a simple one-light setup. This will be our main, or key, light. To better illustrate this, let's bring down the house lights and I'll fire this one up. You can see, as I move this light around, how the contours in her face really change.

Now this is what's known as a hair light and you can see that it eliminates the hair and separates her from the background. This is more of a silhouette. Now Margo, could you please turn toward the right. There we go, and see how pretty that is on her face. We've got kind of a room light. I'll bring it a little bit further. Very, very pretty! Now this is the kind of light-- go ahead and look straight please-- this is the kind of light that our flashes create-- not nearly as pretty. It's very flat.

You lose the depth and the contouring around her face, and this was the glamour light that often Hollywood would use on their actresses. Now one thing to look at, too, is the sharp line between the highlights and the shadows. As I move the light back, you can see how that line kind of diffuses; it becomes softer. The closer the light source to the subject, the harder, more contrasty the light; the further away, the softer the light.

So go ahead and smile for me, a bigger smile, even bigger. Now her smile is beautiful, but the lighting message we're sending is a more serious one, so go ahead and just kind of be a little serious, a little somber. So now her expression is fitting the lighting message that we're trying to send. With a softer and more even light, you can have that big happy smile. So far we've been using a direct light source, but other examples of a direct light source might be a flash or the sun.

You can also make your light source indirect, meaning that the light bounces off something before it hits the subject. For this, you would use a reflector, a white card, a concrete driveway; basically anything that reflects light will work. So I'm going to have my assistant come in here and lend me a hand of this demo. I'm also going to increase her light source, because we are bouncing it a greater distance. So check out this and how the light really becomes softer on her face.

Look at how the line between the highlights and the shadows really has become softer and more diffused. And see that beautiful triangle? Turn your head just a little and now bring it back this way please, even a little bit more. See that beautiful triangle that's highlighting her eye? It creates all sorts of depths in her face, and really is just a lovely caressing light. So give me a little bit of a smile. There you go.

I love the smile still, I love the light, but I'm still thinking that the smile is not matching our lighting message. So go ahead and just a small smile though. There you go, much better. So you can achieve this same soft light by adding a diffusion between your light and the subject. I'm going to point this back at you.

Again, look at how harsh those shadows are and look at that triangle by her eye. Now watch this. Oh, is that sweet? So if you had a choice, which kind of light would you like to be photographed under: this or this? Definitely this one. Now this is a commercial product, but there are a lots of other things that can work for you: a bed sheet, a shower curtain, a window sheer.

Now that you've got a working understanding of a single light source, let's take a look at adding a second light source in the next movie.

There are currently no FAQs about The Elements of Effective Photographs.

Share a link to this course
Please wait... Please wait...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.
Upgrade now


Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ.

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Upgrade now

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.


Mark all as unwatched Cancel

Congratulations

You have completed The Elements of Effective Photographs.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


OK
Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

Get started

Already a member?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferencesfrom the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Welcome to the redesigned course page.

We’ve moved some things around, and now you can



Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked