We Directors of photography are like musicians more than painters,
 like musicians,  we use energy and work to manuplate it. Our palette is provided by light.
Photography begins the moment light is emitted from a source.
We manipule  light to serve artistic or technical purposes.
Whether these manipulations are physical, chemical,
electrical, or electronic, they are all motivated by the same mission and
guided by the same understanding of how light behaves.
We are primarily concerned with the brightness,color, and contrast of the light.
A light source has high contrast if its rays all strike the subject from
nearly the same angle. Light rays from a low-contrast source strike the subject from many different angles. Sunlight on a clear day is a common example of a high-contrast light source.

The  light that passes through the clouds strikes the subject from many different angles. So on overcast day sunlight becomes a low-contrast light source.


The contrast of the light is not  only one that  influences  contrast of a scene. We know that we can find high contrast in an image with low contrast

light and low contrast in high contrast light.

Contrast is also determined by subject matter composition,color in scene,  exposure, and post processing. A scene that includes black and white subjects is likely to have more contrast than one with entirely gray objects.

but a software Levels or Curves adjustment can produce high contrast, even in an entirely gray scene in very-low-contrast lighting.

Increased and decreased exposure can reduce contrast in an average scene. However, increasing exposure will

increase contrast in a dark subject, whereas decreasing exposure may increase contrast in a light gray scene.


Selecting the size of the light is one of the most important steps in

a lighting setup. Time of day and weather determine the size of the light


A hard shadow often increases the illusion of depth more

than a soft one. When we understand this concept, we have another

way to manipulate the tonal values, and thus control the sense of depth,

in our pictures.

Diffusing screens, umbrellas, and bounce cards all increase the

effective size of any light. The effect of any of these is about the

same as that of another. Because all of these devices can produce

identical pictures, we pick the one that is most convenient. Thus, if

the subject is small, we are more likely to use a framed sheet of diffusion

material because we can place it close to the subject for

brighter illumination. It’s harder to construct a very large diffuser, so

we are more likely to bounce the light from a white ceiling to light a

large subject.

Outdoors we can achieve the same effect by waiting for an overcast

day. Clouds make excellent diffusion material, effectively increasing

the size of the sunlight source.


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