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Chapter 6. People Photography >  Portrait Lighting Basics

Portrait Lighting Basics

Lighting is the palette you’ll be using to paint your photographic portraits. The next two sections will introduce you to some basic techniques, using some diagrams I’ve put together that will help you set up professional-looking lighting on your first try. However, you don’t need to stick to the setups I’m going to describe anymore than you’d want to paint using only one shade each of red, blue, green, yellow, orange, or other colors. Once you understand how various types of lighting affect your portrait, you’ll want to expand on the basic techniques to achieve special looks of your own devising. This section covers some basics.

The Nature of Light

The character of the light you use is just as important as the direction it comes from. As a photographer, you probably already know that light can be hard and harsh, or soft and gentle. Neither end of the spectrum is “good” or “bad.” Each type of light, and all the gradations in between, has their own advantages and disadvantages.


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