One of my resolutions for this year (it’s late March, yes I know), has been to start seriously exploring new and creative ways of using lighting in my photography. I’ve been shooting for years, but always relied on mostly natural light with maybe a single speed light or flash. Most of this was for purely practical reasons. I like shooting outside. I like shooting nature, landscapes, architecture. I like shooting portraits out in nature or in an environment.
But when I look closely at the type of photography I’m drawn towards and like best, it’s photographs that use dramatic, unexpected and creative use of light. I like photographs with sharp contrast. I like photographs that use light to help tell a story. And to do this, you need more direct ways to create, control and manipulate light.
So now I have to make a confession. I’ve always found studio lighting just a bit intimidating. All these elaborate (and expensive) lighting rigs, with multiple stands, umbrellas, softboxes and light bulbs the size of a small lunch box. How do I know what goes where? How do I know what settings to use? How do I get the kind of results I want?
The answer is simple and so painfully obvious. You experiment. You play, fail and learn. And (hopefully) have fun through all of it.
While I think the intimidation is what held me back the most, more practical questions like budget and space played a factor too. But the reality is that you can start with simple, effective lighting gear for a small investment. And you don’t need an expansive studio space to get started either. You can move furniture and make the space you need, no matter how small your living space is. So I decided to stop making excuses, and start exploring a part of photography I’ve always wanted to try.
I’m going to start sharing some of my “light experiments” here and on my instagram account (@markdaniel), including gear I’ve been trying out, how I’m using it, and some of the resulting photos. I don’t think I’m the only one who finds lighting a bit intimidating, so I hope this will be useful for you.