Without a doubt the hardest part of learning photography is lighting. Not light, but lighting. What’s the difference, you ask? Light is what we photograph; it bounces off subjects in different ways and in different colors. Lighting is the practice of constructing the way in which light is used in a photograph, and can include studio lights, natural light or a combination of both. And it’s a steep learning curve.
How do I know? Because I watch students struggle with it each semester when they try to move past a basic portrait setup. The challenge of properly revealing contour, surface texture and critical details while simultaneously creating an eye-popping, attention-grabbing photo that pleases a client almost always results in college students sitting in class with forlorn looks decorating their faces.
Unfortunately, feeling forlorn about lighting doesn’t mean the students are excused from learning how to do it. However, this article at Digital Photo this month gives a nice primer for the tried-and-true setups for good, basic lighting.