PHC Ron Bayles
Figures 5-24.Comparison of front and side lighting.
way, but side lighting creates shadows in every little
crevice (fig. 5-24). The effect increases as the light is
more parallel with the wall until long shadows fall from
the smallest irregularity in the brickwork This can give
an almost 3-D effect to a photograph.
Side lighting is particularly important with black-
and-white photography that relies on gray tones, rather
than color, to record the subject. Shadows caused by side
lighting reveal details that can create striking pictures
from ordinary objects that are otherwise hardly worth
photographing in black and white. Anything that has a
noticeable texture-like the ripples of sand on a beach,
for example-gains impact when lit from the side.
Landscapes, buildings, people, all look better when
This applies to color photography as well. Color
gives the viewer extra information about the subject that
may make up for a lack of texture in frontlighting, but
often the result is much better when lit from the side.
Pictures made with side lighting usually have harsh
shadows and are contrasty. To lighten the shadows and
reduce the contrast, you may want to use some type of
reflector to direct additional skylight into the shadow
areas or use fill-in flash, whichever is more convenient.
When the sun is in front of the photographer, coming
directly at the camera, you have what is referred to as
backlighting; that is, the subject is backlit. This type of
lighting can be very effective for pictures of people
outdoors in bright sunlight. In bright sunlight, when
subjects are front-lighted or even sidelighted, they may
be uncomfortable and squint their eyes. Backlighting
helps to eliminate this problem. Backlighting may also
require the use of a reflector or fill-in flash to brighten
up the dark shadows and improve subject detail.
Backlighting is also used to produce a silhouette effect.
When you use backlighting, avoid having the sun
rays fall directly on the lens (except for special effects).
A lens hood or some other means of shading the lens
should be used to prevent lens flare.
Existing light photography, sometimes called
available or natural light photography, is the making of
pictures by the light that happens to be on the scene. This
includes light from table, floor, and ceiling lights, neon
signs, windows, skylights, candles, fireplaces, auto
mobile headlights, and any other type of light that
provides the natural lighting of a scene-except daylight
outdoors. (Moonlight is considered existing light.)
Existing light then is that type of light found in the home,
in the office, in the hangar bay, in the chapel, in the club,
in the sports arenas, and so on. Outdoor scenes at
twilight or after dark are also existing light situations.
Photography by existing light produces pictures that
look natural. Even the most skillfully lighted flash
picture may look artificial when compared to a good
existing light photograph. With existing light
photography, the photographer has an opportunity to
make dramatic, creative pictures. Existing light allows
the photographer greater freedom of movement because