Sunday, April 3, 2011

Photography Tip - My Fav Lighting Set Up

Lighting is the key element to any image.  When starting out in photography I would come home from a session with a few inspirational images.  In these few images it seemed that I stumbled onto the formula and I couldn't consistently achieve the same formula. How do you get consistently great lighting in your images?  I believe it's knowing the rules of lights.  After learning the rules of lighting, I realized how easy it is to create consistently awesome images.  The more you know about the elements of light, the more you can point and create rather than point and hope.  The 3 main elements of light are Key Light, Fill Light and Back Light.

Key Light - The main light that eliminates your subject. 
Fill Light - The light that diminishes the shadows cast by the Key Light.
Back Light - The light coming from behind hitting the subject on the head and shoulders, separating the subject from the background.  The effect is a more 3 dimensional appearance.

Here is a diagram of my favorite outdoor lighting set up.

Here are some sample images...

Here I used the Red Rocks in place of trees.  I achieved a real fun light flare because the rocks didn't filter the light as well as trees would.  The sun was about 1/2 way behind the rocks.

In this example I used the house to filter the sunlight.  I dig the way it's coming through the roof.

Here I filtered the light through holes in this old barn roof.  I love how light and bright it makes this image feel.

This is my Brother's sweet little family.  
I love them to pieces!

Hope you enjoyed my tip!!  This is just one of the concepts you'll learn in my Photo By You workshops.  I teach a workshop in Salt Lake or online.


  1. When you use this set-up, do you ever use any fill light? Either flash (on or off-camera?), or a reflector to bounce some light onto your subjects' faces?

  2. Yes, I sometimes add fill light. I use a reflector about 75% of the time when shooting close ups. I use my flash about 50% of the time when shooting larger groups. I really try to use a lot of tree filter for my back light so that it's not necessary to add fill. I don't want to Have to add fill, I want it to just add that extra pop. I hope that helps.

  3. Thanks, Emilie. I just found this post again!