Lighting and Photography – Week 6

Today in class we covered lighting, it’s effects on the camera and watched a video by photographer Peter Hurley on lighting faces. He talked about a range of principles including the inverse square law, hard and soft light and natural light. All of which I found very confusing because I’m not a photographer (I don’t even think I’ve ever held a proper camera before that class).

The Inverse Square Law

Sounds scary but it’s not. This was explained to us about three times but yet I still wasn’t sure what the Inverse Square Law was or what it did for photographers so I did some more research into it. Basically it’s how quickly light falls off from a point source of light, so if an object is twice the distance away it will only get a quarter of the light. But if you keep the level of exposure on the subject the same then it will create a bigger contrast within the photo.

Here’s a god-sent video explaining the Inverse Square Law that I actually understood and how you can use it to improve your photography:

Hard and Soft Light

These two types of lighting are easily distinguishable and can bring equally dramatic effects to your subject. Hard light on your subject will cast sharp, darker shadows while soft light will cast softer, lighter shadows. You can soften your light by using a bigger light source or just moving it closer. Bouncing the light can also soften it. Hard lighting can create a dramatic, powerful feeling to your shot/photo whilst soft lighting is more subtle and gives it a more even quality.

This video gives some examples:

Natural Light

I found this website useful, Cambridge in Colour,  it explains the effects of natural lighting and the type of photos you’ll get depending on the time of the day. To recreate natural lighting inside, you would just need a softer light source which you can create by bouncing the light off walls, ceilings, reflectors etc.

For portraiture, a good tip was that when you’re going for a more feminine look you would want less shadow cast on the face (preferably using softer light). Also when drawing women, draw their shadows on the face instead of their features as this will give them a softer look. For men harsher shadows are better looking but you can light men and women the same although sometimes a subject’s features just cant handle it and will suit just one or the other.

Soft lighting on this famous lady, a more feminine look
Soft lighting on this famous lady, a more feminine look

My animation lecturer, Alec Parkin, suggested this article to read and I found it super useful (especially when I’m drawing as it gives me a few more choices when I’m drawing and shading shadows).

Thankfully, we also covered camera settings in our class and now I really want a camera:


Exposure is how light or dark your photo is. Aperture, shutter speed and ISO speed are settings that you can use together to change your exposure:

  • Aperture – (affects your depth of field) A “F-stop” on a camera refers to the aperture. The larger the f-stop number, the smaller the aperture opening causing the background to be in focus. The smaller the number, the more blurred the background and more in focus the foreground is, creating a bigger depth of field.
  • Shutter speed – (affects motion blur) Controls the duration of the exposure. The slower the shutter speed the greater the exposure.
  • ISO speed – (affects image noise) Controls the sensitivity to light. The lower the ISO value the less grainy the image will be.

This website goes into further detail and I definitely recommend taking a look!

For this week we were also set a photography challenge. We needed to take 100 photos per each of the six categories: composition, tonality, colour, texture, depth of field and light. The subject can be anything , I just need to show experimentation.


Composition is quite simply the layout of your photo. The Rule of Thirds is is a method used to make the layout more interesting by placing your subject along any of the lines or intersections. If the subject of your photo is boring then you can use composition to make it more interesting.

These are a few of my favourite pictures I took when focusing on composition (you can view the rest of all my photos from each category on my flickr page):

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Of course tonality doesn’t mean black and white, it can show a range of colour tones too.

My top tonality photos:

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One of my favourite photographers not that I follow many is Aurelie Cerise. Her photos are simple and beautiful with composition playing a big part in them but for me her use of colour is what makes them so attractive.

Here’s some of my attempts at colour:

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The surface texture of the subject can be effectively used to bring impact to the photo. By using light you can create shadows that bring out the details on the surface which can outshine the actual object and become more interesting.

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Self explanatory. My top photos:

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Since I don’t own a DSLR camera I can’t play around with the exposure or shutter speed, but there’s some apps out there that can. I downloaded an app called Slow Camera and used it for some of my photos. The pictures of crazy light beams were taken using the app.

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Once I got into this task I found I really enjoyed it. Even though I’m not the best photographer in the world maybe second, I did much better than I expected to.  These last photos are my favourite from each category:

All photos were taken using my iPhone 6C camera and you can view the rest of my photos on my flickr page.




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