Determining the direction of light

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by JDBB, Jun 25, 2008.

  1. JDBB

    JDBB TPF Noob!

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    Hey all,
    I've been having some trouble with this rather simple question. How do you determine the direction of where the light is coming from, say in a bright room or outdoors on a bright day?
    Correct me if am wrong but the reason am asking is because I've heard that for portrait photography in the case of a man, it is better to have side lighting; and in the case of a woman, it's better to have front lighting. Is this even true?
    Any help is surely appreciated ;)
    Cheers,
    JDBB
     
  2. bigalbest

    bigalbest TPF Noob!

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    There is no right answer here. Start looking at your favorite photographs and try to reverse engineer how they were done. At first this is a little difficult but after a while you will start to see obvious clues like shadow direction that will tell you where the light is coming from. The book "Light: Science and Magic" has some really detailed descriptions on how to direct this light yourself. I hope this helps answer your question.
     
  3. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    There are some soft rules for lighting men or women etc...but it's not as cut & dry as that. Side lighting accentuates texture and form and front lighting tends to flatten.

    As for how to tell the direction of light...I would think that an easy way would be to look for the shadows. If the shadow is falling to the left, then the light is coming from the right...and so on.
     
  4. djacobox372

    djacobox372 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    It's safe to assume that the brightest side of a subject is the one in light...
     
  5. reg

    reg TPF Noob!

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    If you're gonna make smartass comments, at least make them relevant to the question asked.
     
  6. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Same goes for you, reg.
     

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