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Shadows are as important as Light in Photography

Shadows and Light go hand in hand in Photography as they do in real life.

We derive our photography rules and principles from nature and how light exists in nature. We come across the light in our everyday situations and thus we see the shadows as well. Shadows are cast in the direction opposite of the light source.

Most of the time, since our eye has the ability to see detail in both light and dark tones together, we are able to see the detail in shadows as well. In other words, our eyes, due to the involvement of the brain reduce the contrast that exists. The film or the sensor does not record the image in the same way. It records through one aperture and shutter speed combination and thus can register detail either in the lighter tones or the darker tones. So while clicking the image you need to ensure that you give priority to the brighter tones as compared to the darker tone. We do like shadows but do not appreciate the blown-out and washed-out areas in a photograph. With an improvement in technology and with larger sensors, the ability to record detail in varied tones is greater as compared to a crop sensor. The more sophisticated cameras today have a much better dynamic range.

We all like dramatic photographs. The shadows and the darker tones make the photograph more interesting than a regular plain shot.


Learn about Photography Lighting

To make this Fashion editorial of Ogaan for a Dubai-based Magazine - "Friday", more interesting, I decided to let the shadow of the beauty dish rim be visible in the frame, right around the face. I love shooting with a single light and the play of shadows that it creates. If you can handle a single light well, there is absolutely no need to add more lights. These should be added only if there is a purpose.

Learn about Photography Lighting

For this Lingerie shoot, a Beauty dish was used and the model was intentionally positioned close to the pink paper background. Lingerie is difficult to shoot especially when it is white. The fine detail can be highlighted best if further tones are created in white. Notice that even when the model is lying down the light is coming from such a direction that the shadow is created under the chin and not in the opposite direction as that would have created an unnatural effect. The light as we recall always comes from above in nature and not underneath.

Learn about Photography Lighting

One should not be too scared of shadows. Even though soft and diffused light was used for this model but since she was quite closer to the wall behind, a shadow was unavoidable. The direction of light is still important even if you use a soft light source. The source of light is usually always hard but it can be modified with the help of diffusers and other such modifiers. The light is coming from the right and a bit above the model so as to create the shadow under the chin.


Learn about Photography Lighting

The model standing on the stairs was photographed through the door. The light on the model is quite directional which is why the portion below the stairs is also dark as no light is falling over that area. The darker was of the room from which the photo has been clicked was intentionally left unilluminated.


 

All about Photography Lighting explained by Munish Khanna

Patterns make the photograph more interesting. It's not illuminated through blinds but a similar pattern was created in the studio. A GOBO was created with a basic black chart paper. You just need to cut it in the shape you want and fix it in front of the light. It will work well only if the light is hard and different distances from the light source can be tried out to ensure that you get what you intend to.

All about Photography Lighting explained by Munish Khanna

On the same line, a Gobo was created with the pattern and positioned in front of a snoot. Since the subject is right in front of the orange wall, it is falling on both the subject and the wall behind. Keeping the tones low-key also help in getting the rich tones on the skin as well as the deep color of the wall. A wide focal length of 24mm was used at a low angle to create the impact by placing the camera quite close. Wide angle does not cause any distortion on its own but by bringing it closer to the subject, one gets the feeling of being there itself.

 

All about Photography Lighting explained by Munish Khanna

Sometimes there are elements existing around you that can be very suitably used to create shadows and the same can make the photograph all the more interesting and dramatic. which is why it's very important to be a keen observer in photography.


All about Photography Lighting explained by Munish Khanna

All about Photography Lighting explained by Munish Khanna

All about Photography Lighting explained by Munish Khanna

All these photographs have specific reasons to create or retain shadows in the frame. These images include the light sources as well and the approach is to illuminate the subject with artificial studio light at the same time. The model is visible because of the light falling on it whereas the light sources which are the candles here would appear better on their own if less light falls on them. The main light has been modified in such a manner so that it falls specifically on the model only leaving the rest of the area dark so that the illumination of the tiny light sources is more prominently visible in the photograph

 

All about Photography Lighting explained by Munish Khanna

The singer was photographed in the studio. To create a stage-like effect the lights were positioned behind her and included in the frame as well. This effect won't show well unless these are placed in the dark shadow area of the photograph.

All about Photography Lighting explained by Munish Khanna

While light defines the contours in fine art nude photography, it's the shadows that make it more artistic. It's sexier to conceal than to reveal. The subject has not been illuminated directly but through the large window creating an extended rim lighting. A studio light was set up outside with a light modifier to restrict the light into a strip. This also created a large negative space thrown into a shadow. we always look at the brightest area of the photograph first and by including a lot of These photographs were shot on Medium format Mamiya 645 AFDII with a Phaseone P30 + Digital back.


 

Tips on How to click better picturesAll about Photography Lighting explained by Munish Khanna

Both the Sadhus in this photograph I shot in Haridwar are silhouettes or I can say, in shadows. I released the shutter just before they crossed the path of each other, thus defining the shapes.


All about Photography Lighting explained by Munish Khanna

All about Photography Lighting explained by Munish Khanna

The objective of these shots for a Body Builder was to get well define the tones on his body. Single-directional hard light and its shadows play the perfect role in achieving this. he worked on his body for months all together and the contours won't have been visible without the effective use of shadows.


learn photography online by Munish Khanna

The warm Golden light skimming across the barren mountain peaks in Ladakh's Nubra valley are more highlighted due to the shadow another mountain is creating.



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