learning to love light. more.

By May 3, 2014photography

I must admit, I appear to have a long standing love affair with light. I started out as a stage lighting designer. Then I designed architectural lighting for theatres and small galleries. Then I went to grad school and fell in love with 3D, where once again, I could light, but this time I could defy physics by telling lights to cast or not cast shadows, or telling them to not cast light on certain objects at all, the discovery of which made me cackle maniacally in a the way only a lighting dork could. Then I started learning mental ray, the physics-based lighting and rendering system inside Maya, my program of choice at the time, and now I work with Vray, the physics based rendering engine for Cinema 4D, my current most-used 3D program.

And then I got a camera. Not a point and shoot. A nice DSLR. Then I got a better one. I got better lenses. I spent some time in the mountains, and received a book of Ansel Adams wherein he outlines his zone system for conceiving of and developing photographs, and I was suddenly yanked out of my virtual world of lights where I became a goddess of photon-based physics and back into an art form that is truly just the capturing of light. Everything we see is light bouncing off of objects, and in photography you are capturing the light as it bounces back into the camera lens.

But with all of my past build up of lighting, I had no idea how to actually manipulate light for the camera. A camera can not pick up nearly the range that the human eye can. Ask anyone who has ever taken a picture in a low light situation. You’ll see it. And so with my growing passion for photography, I decided to take a class in studio portrait lighting for photography so I could learn the magical ways of lighting in real life for an actual live camera. I have to confess… it makes me giddy. Somehow this has managed to reach all the way back to my early days working with theatre lights, pull it back into the present and combine all of that with my knowledge of the digital art world, and just concepts of composition in general. Below are a few of my favorite samples from the class. I am sure they are rough, because I literally just laid hands on lights for photography for the first time in this class, but oh my, the possibilities I can see…

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