Esther Beaton


A quick lesson in quick lighting


What makes this family “portrait” so pleasing?

No, it’s not the fact that it’s my family – my sister and nephews.

It’s the lighting.

My sister has taken this “selfie” while keeping in mind all the rules of a good photo:

1. Tight cropping. She’s not afraid to even chop a bit off one of the heads. There is still enough of a background to hint at the Silicon Valley setting.

2. Dynamic composition. The two heads on the outside are leaning towards the centre – creating lines that lead the attention towards a central point in the composition. Even her outstretched arms contribute more “leading lines”.

3. Colour composition. The peach shirt goes well with the skin tones, keeping everything in the same colour palette.

4. But the number one rule – the most important one for photography – is LIGHTING. That’s the reason I’ve used this picture as a example of how one can take a great photo even with a smartphone – as long as they know what they’re doing.

Isn’t it awful when people’s faces have harsh shadows? That’s what would have happened if she had them stand out in the full, noonday sunlight.

Instead, she got all three of them to stand in the shade of a doorway. This has created completely even light on all their faces.

But when people are photographed in full shade, they normally turn a yucky bluish skin tone. Can anyone figure out why that didn’t that happen in this instance?

(The clue is in the sunglasses.)

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