Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Let there be Light!

Photographs are pictures painted with Light. Although a platidue and not even an inventive one, is it true. Fact. No doubt about it. For the common food photography you need at least some light.

And as sure as we need light to photograph as controvers lighting is discussed. Start a conversation about lighting and it wouldn't surprsie me that you have a heated debate soon. But what is the controvery in lighting all about? Often it is the light source. Do you use (1) natural light or artificial light. If you use artificial light, do you use (2) continous light or (3) flash light and of cause the required equipment. Are there differences between these light sources? Sure, there are. Is one light source better than the other? No. Would you really like to judge the quality of the different light sources for usability or quality in food photography? I wouldn't, because I wouldn't like to judge the quality of oil based colors vs. water colors in still life painting. The light is the tool we use to realize our ideas in food photography. And depending on your ideas and what you want to achive you will choose the light source.

Is it worthwhile to discuss light and lighting? Yes. Each light source has its own quality, advantages, limitations, techniques. Like a painter has to learn how to use oil or water colors, the photographer has to learn how to use the different light sources and what one personal can do with it. In the end it is the photographer imaginativeness that makes the photo. To know how to use light is essential for the realization.

As important lighting equipment and technique for lighting in food photography is, it is just one side of the medal. For me personal more important is to get a feeling for light and lighting, to "see" light, how it works, what effects it creates and how different it is. There are many good books covering the techniques and how to use the equipment, which will help you to understand technical background and to improve you technical skills. To develop your own style and to improve your imaginative skills, you have to practice. During the day, light is always around, so take a closer look at it. Light in the morning is different from that at noon, it is different on a cloudy day from that on a bright sunny day. Light inside a room through a curtain is different from that outside. Try to use these different qualities. Take a look at your favorite photos and try to analyse them. How was it done. Where is the main light source. What about shadows and fill lights.

Experiment, practice, learn by try and error. Take a look at more photos and learn from them. Like for any other hobby it is experience and practice that will help you. To talk about it has helped me to understand how lighting works for me and I could profit from experiences others have made. And most important I learn from the mistakes I made and will make. Thanks to all who have given me pointers, there opinion and to my hardest critics.

To end this personal opinion thread two photos from my own experiments on lighting.

Rose Tea (1/2)
© All rights reserved, Thorsten Kraska, 2009

Rose Tea (2/2)
© All rights reserved, Thorsten Kraska, 2009

If ou like this post you may also like "Find your Light"


Renee (USA) said...

Please keep blogging--I LOVE your photos!

Thorsten said...

Thank you Renee for your compliment. Sure I will keep blogging. Meanwhile you can browse through my photos at Flickr.

Helene said...

Wow, did not realize we were shooting rose buds at about the same time!
I am feeling smart all of a sudden!
Love them on black!

Helene said...

Ah no, never mind, I just realized you did it in 2007. I still had no idea:)

studena said...

Hi Thorsten,
ich bin so froh das ich auf Dein Blog gestoßen habe.
Kochen und Fotografie sind 2 grosse Leidenschaften von mir, allerdings in dem letzten bin ich nicht so gut, aber ich lerne :)
Und gerade Licht ist my grosses Problem, deswegen wäre mir von grosse Hilfe wenn Du auch die Einstellungen am Fotoaparat erwehenen würdest (ISO, Belict.usw...)
Vielen Dank!

Anonymous said...

I would like to say thanks because I'm learning with your blog and photos!
I'm here because I was grabbed by your "tea roses" pics which I foud them both very atractive pictures, but the one I loved is the darkest shot you made it and if you let me I will comment it at Flickr.
Thanks again!

Thorsten said...

Welcome to my blog me&myshadow. You are invited to comment on any of my photos on flickr. I would really appreciate your opinion.