There are a variety of ways to light your subject in photography. Remember the definition of photography is to write or draw with light. Your mastery of the element of light is crucial to being successful as a photographic artist. Light is discussed in relation to it's source.

There are two basic light sources. Natural (sunlight) and Artificial (flash or studio light)

Natural Light

  • could include the sun
  • filtered sunlight on a cloudy day
  • moonlight
  • firelight

  • Available Light:coming from a natural light source through a window or glass door or skylight, implies that it is the only light available in the room at the time
  • firelight from fireplace or candle flame

Artificial Light

Lighting Source

  • flash on camera or attached to it separately
  • studio light source such as a spot light or strobe light
  • light in the room

Types of Studio/Artificial

  • available artificial light (only light in the space such as a computer screen)
  • bounce light (using a white umbrella, sheet or other white object to reflect light onto to better light the subject)
  • fill light (Subject is lit by one light source,but there are shadows so a second light source fills in those shadows, could be through bounce or flash or other) Sometimes needed even in natural lighting situations. For example: Sunny day and your subject is in the shade of a tree. Might need to fill the light.
  • dramatic lighting-one single light source that creates extreme shadows (usually a spotlight)