Importance of Lighting in Photography

Today we are going to discuss about the importance of light during “Photography”. Light and illumination are the basics of photography. The very word “Photography” comes from Greek words, ‘Photo’ means light and ‘Graphics’ means drawing. Hence photography can be described as “Drawing with Light”

 Lighting plays a crucial role in photography. Without light there is no illumination. It can bring a photograph to life. It can generate effects, including spectacular shadows and silhouettes. Say for example- In a room without illumination everything is pitch black we can’t see anything, taking a shot assuming the camera allows to produces a solid black photograph. Now if we switch on the light everything is illuminated.

Lighting determines not only darkness or brightness but also tone, mood and atmosphere. Therefore it is necessary to control and manipulate light correctly in order to get the best texture, vibrancy of color and luminosity of the subject. Without good light, even the most compelling subject won’t make for an interesting photograph.

 Even natural light comes in four basic varieties. Soft light, front light, side light and back light. Soft light works best for colorful subjects.

  1. Softlight: While direct sunlight emphasizes the contrast between light and dark soft light heightens color contrasts, and can emphasize subtle tints that would be lost in the sun.
  2. Frontlight: For colorful subjects, the next best thing to soft light is low front light created by positioning the sun at your back. Since most of the shadows will fall behind your subject, the scene becomes evenly illuminated by the sun and color contrasts predominate.
  3. Sidelight: With the sun coming from your left or right, is great for bringing out the texture of subjects. Since sidelight strikes one side of your subject while leaving the opposite side in shadow, it automatically creates contrast. It is therefore a good choice subjects lacking color or for black and white photography.
  4. Backlight: Created when the sun is positioned behind your subject which also creates deep contrast between highlights and shadows. Translucent subjects like leaves, flowers, feathers and waterfalls will seem to glow with an inner light when the sun shines through them from behind. Backlight can be used to create striking silhouettes.


Lighting is particularly important for monochrome photography, where there is no color information, only the interplay of highlights and shadows. Lighting and exposure are used to create such as low key and high key.


Some Tips & Tricks:-

  • It is very important to see the source of the light & how it falls on your subject, when light is coming from behind the camera, and it pointing directly to the subject can give you a very flat light impression along with the effects of shadows behind the image.
  • Side lighting creates more interesting effects as it shows shape of the subject and gives a dramatic look into        it.To retain detail in your fluffy pet’s fur, position the light source somewhat to the side rather than straight          on.
  • The light source should be broad because broader the light source, softer is the light.
  • Bring the light source closer to the subject so that it can produce soft light.
  • Diffusion scatters the light thus making the light source broader and softer. Adding a diffuser to your light           source can reduce glare and harsh shadows. You can diffuse light using soft boxes umbrella and heat proof          materials to achieve the best result.
  • Lighting from the sides, above or below creates the sense of volume. Landscape photographer use angular           lighting for this reason.Hope these tips & tricks will help you to improve your knowledge in photography.We too conduct photography classes with all types of sophisticated photography instruments in all our three centres. The classes are conducted by very experienced faculties.

    MAAC Kolkata also conducts an event every year named as MAAC KLICK. It is a nature and wildlife exploration that trails across India. Students explore scenic location and learn wildlife photography from experts during these expeditions.


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