Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lighting Rules

This post will be dedicated to Danielle and some others who have not bothered with the rules, for whatever reasons, but who have still produced magnificent photographic and artistic results.
Lighting Rule #1. There must be detail in the highlights.
Lighting Rule #2. There must be detail in the shadows.
Lighting Rule #3. There must be sufficient contrast in the image that it doesn't produce a gray-ish appearance.
Lighting Rule #4. Women and children under three should be photographed with soft light.
Lighting Rule #5. Men and diamonds must be photographed with hard light.
Lighting Rule #6. Women with wrinkles should be softened with extra soft light.
Lighting Rule #7. Men with beards should be sharpened with extra hard light, and perhaps titled, "Old Salt."
Lighting Rule #8. Kicker lighting should not hit the nose.
Lighting Rule #9. Kicker light should not overpower the cheek.
Lighting Rule #9. Back-lighting should not be stronger than the key light, and especially not equal to the fill.
Lighting Rule #10. Lighting should accentuate the face.
Lighting Rule #11. Lighting should never allow the viewer an opportunity to imagine that the intent of the photograph was meant for anything other than to reveal what the face looks like.
Lighting Rule #12. Light should always come from above.
Lighting Rule #13. Nature only has one light source. I was told this one by a judge who condemned what he counted to be five light sources in one of my outdoor images. I had shot the image with about a 500mm Hasselblad lens, and had no lighting or reflectors of my own to modify what I saw, only what nature provided. Some people need to get out more often.
Lighting Rule #?. (More to come. Feel free to send Fred your own, whether it's a rule that you follow, a rule you think is silly, or a rule that you abhor.)

Personally, I have no lighting rules in my photography. I have two guidelines that I follow, however:
Fred's Lighting Guideline #1. If it's important, put some light on it.
Fred's Lighting Guideline #2. If it's not important, put it in some shadow. My first clue toward this end was with painters, not photographers. They would often leave canvas blank where nothing important was going on. Idiots, on the other hand, tried to cover every square millimeter with some kind of color.
This is why bagpipes never caught on very well. There are no spaces between the sounds.

I sometimes find myself breaking my own guidelines.
I find myself laughing at the rules all the time.

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