Discovering Light

Date: 10.29.18
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Practical 2

High Key Image (Left) - Low Key Image (Right)


From Left to Right - Front Lighting, Top Lighting, Side Lighting, and Back Lighting


Emphasis on Texture

This shot is top-lit and I believe shows great texture. If you look at horror movies that have monsters underlit or toplit - you’ll notice they look intimidating and ugly. This lighting technique helps bring out the texture in the skin and clothes - as heavy shadows help extenuate every imperfection in the character.

Concentrated Light (left) vs Diffused Light (right)

As you can see the concentrated light from a flashlight resulted in a very hard-edged shadow and accentuated the texture in the object. The diffused light (using a white silk) softened the shadows up and put less emphasis on the texture of the object.

Light Painting

Here a few of my favorite shots using a “light-painting” method. What makes this so much fun is you can do things that are otherwise impossible with other lighting techniques. “Light-painting” is a great way to describe it because that is literally what you are doing. You have a completely dark image and it is up to you to highlight the areas that you want to see. This method has a certain “dreaminess” to it and is definitely abstract as it cannot be reproduced with conventional lighting methods.


This really opened my eyes to different lighting techniques and possible applications for each. Top lighting and back lighting are very dramatic and seem to offer the most drama. Front lighting and high-key imagery seems to soften the shadows and contrast - possibly making it more pleasing for portrait and glamour photography. Side lighting I found to also be quite dramatic, but in a pleasing way and also quite mysterious.

The biggest challenge was properly demonstrating the difference between hard and soft lighting. The lighting sources I had were already quite diffused - so I needed to use a bright flashlight to get a proper hard-light.

I found top lighting and light-painting to be the most rewarding. Something about top lighting give the subject a dark and uneasy look - I would love to experiment with that more. Light-painting was really fun and allowed me to light very specific portions of the image while keeping others completely dark - I found this method to be really experimental and artistic.

I thought my execution was pretty good considering the limited resources I had. Obtaining high and low-key images was not a problem. Keeping my camera setting consistent for the most part help keep the lighting test consistent and accurate. This was a very eye-opening and fun experience!

DGMD E-9: Fundamentals of Digital Photography