How we use light, whether natural or man-made, defines us as photographers, so learning all about it is kind of important. To set you on the right path, we have exclusive, abridged excerpts from a new book, Mastering Lighting & Flash Photography , by professional photographer Richard Bradbury Guiding light
T ry to imagine a world In fact, without light, life on our planet would simply cease to exist, so it is hard to imagine a more fundamental aspect of human existence. We live in a world that is governed by light. We wake up when the sun rises and go to sleep when it sets. Light brings us warmth, growth, happiness and, ultimately, life itself. It is the method we use to mark time and our gauge for measuring distance and space. In 1826, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce produced a vague, chemical-based without light – everything around us would be impossible to define. image, which was later called a ‘photograph’ – a word made up of the Greek ‘phos’, meaning ‘light’, and ‘graphé’, meaning ‘drawing’. So, ‘photography’ literally means ‘drawing with light’. Capturing the beauty of the world around us using the medium of photography is only possible if we can develop a profound understanding of the source, nature and qualities of the lighting we choose to use. This has been the ultimate goal of every visual artist since humans first scratched images on cave walls, layered paint on to canvas or rendered images on digital screens. But photographers are a special type of artist – we have taken the understanding of light to a whole new level. Bending and shaping the light we use, photographers are able to create images more beautiful, more expressive and more realistic than any other art form. With the click of a button, we can capture the world around us as it is, or mould and change it, choosing to express a subject as we would like it to be. There is nothing more essential to
Classic bikers Command of the mechanics of light and lighting is the most fundamental skill in photography and only acquired after a long quest for perfection Exposure: 3/5sec at f/10 and ISO 400
Lemon Great still life looks simple, but it takes years of accumulated skills and knowledge to create beautiful lighting Exposure: 1/60sec at f/11 and ISO 50
photographers than the light we use. If the camera is a photographer’s brush and the studio the canvas, then light is the paint we choose to use. It is the medium that allows us to create every image. Nuanced and detailed in nature, light and the art of lighting is at the very heart of what it means to be a great photographer. Light is an endless source of creative inspiration, and learning the mechanics of light and lighting is the most fundamental skill in photography. It can take less than a thousandth of a second to fire a flash and capture a photograph, but it takes a lifetime to master the art of lighting. Let there be light!
“There is nothingmore essential to photographers than the light we use. If the camera is aphotographer’s brushand the studio the canvas, then light is the paint we choose touse”
Issue 86 | Photography News 39
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