Types of light and qualities
The lights can be differentiated according to several criteria:
- (Technical) origin : see also natural light and artificial light
- Color : This can be described by the color temperature or, especially in the case of fluorescent tubes and gas discharge lamps, by the spectral composition.
- Duration of lighting : Sun, moon, lamps and fluorescent tubes provide permanent light (see permanent light ), natural flashes or photographic flash light only briefly illuminate the scene and are therefore able to freeze movements.
- Hardness of light : Point-shaped and planar, but distant light sources provide a so-called hard light, which is characterized by high contrasts and clearly recognizable shadows. Light shapers (soft boxes, reflectors) are able to produce soft light from hard light. An overcast sky is a huge softbox for the almost punctiform sun. Flat artificial light sources are also available.
- Spatial scope of light : A light source can only illuminate a delimited area with more or less sharp edges (spot) or the entire room.
- Direction of light : As frontal light in the direction of the camera, side light from the left or right, back light against the direction of view of the camera, light from above and light from below.
Basic elements of lighting
- The guide light . People's viewing habits have always been familiar with the light situation of an almost point-like light source (sun or moon). Classic lighting makes use of this and also sets a dominant light that (often the only light in the scene) also casts shadows. This is the guide light. The scene is often illuminated in the direction of the camera or from the left or right above the camera. A guide light from exactly above the scene causes deep shadows in the eye sockets, a light from below also looks unusual and can produce very drastic, eerie scenes. This also applies to a back light as a guide light. The guide light can not only illuminate the objects and people in the center of the scene, it is the preferred means of directing the viewer's gaze to the essentials. The quality of light can be hard or soft.
- The brightening . In particular, hard guide lights or back and side lights lead to high light contrasts thatcould no longer be processedby the density range of the film or sensor. Some motifs are flattered by lower contrasts (e.g. the beauty light in portrait photography). This is the task of brightening, which is intended to illuminate the areas less affected by the guide light. A soft light that does not cast shadows is well suited for this so that the guide light does not lose its dominance. Artificial light sources or reflectors can be used for brightening.
- Effect light (or edge, hair light, see also highlight ) . This is a light directed mostly from behind on the subject, which is supposed to help, for example, to distinguish a person from the background (shine in the hair). The light intensity is often high, the light quality hard.
- More light sources . For example, to illuminate the background; can also be done with transmitted light through the background (see also coving ) or to accentuate other parts of the motif.
When mixing light sources , it should be noted that they can differ in color temperature. If the resulting colors are not desired in the picture, the light sources should have a uniform color temperature. This can greatly change the image impression, especially when brightening recordings in natural light or when normal ambient lighting is to continue to have an effect. Reflectors may give better results than fill-in flashes.
An excessive whitening can completely change perceived by the eye impression of the scene in nature. For example, recording a cozy candlelight dinner with too strong a flash would completely suppress the candlelight. Likewise, the viewer will expect that the sun-drenched world in front of the window appears brighter than the interior of the room. (see also: fill flash )
The mixture of briefly shining light (flash light) with the ambient light can leave an impression of movement of moving parts of the subject on the otherwise static photo with a correspondingly long exposure time. The flash should only be ignited at the second shutter curtain and thus just before the end of the exposure in order to fix the part of the movement frozen by the flash in the direction of movement.
Different light colors can also be used as design elements due to their color contrast . An example is the photo taken in a winter hut, where the interior is bathed in warm light and the outside world in front of the window appears blue-cold. The exaggerated brightening of the interior with a cold light could appear unnatural in accordance with our viewing habits.
- Reinhard Merz, Christiane Schäfer: Light and light guidance in photography. Augustus Verlag, Augsburg 2002, ISBN 3-80435-084-4 .