Lighting Lessons are Everywhere
After you’ve learned the five characteristics of light, begin to decode the light that you see around you and in the media. Ask yourself questions like, “Why is that shadow line soft?” or “What could have created that thin slice of light that outlines the left side of the face?” There are lighting lessons everywhere—waiting for you to think about them. Here are some sources to look at:
- Magazine ads: Publishers and advertisers spend huge sums of money styling the people and products that appear in magazines. Fashion magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar are filled with expensive ads and stories that are beautifully styled and lit. Likewise, lifestyle magazines like Martha Stewart Living and Real Simple are a treasure trove of high-quality images. No matter what your interest, clip images that you like and collect them in an “inspiration binder.”
- Movies: Much of what I know about lighting comes from studying the tools and concepts that Hollywood uses to light movie sets. Every time you watch a movie, you have lighting lesson after lighting lesson playing in front of you. Be sure to check the bonus features on DVDs and Blu-ray Discs for behind-the-scenes stories about how the movie was made.
- City streets: I love walking around Manhattan and looking at the light. The skyscrapers may create canyons for those on the street, but the glass and stone facades provide huge reflective surfaces that enable sunlit to cascade down in magical ways. The next time that you find yourself at a big city intersection, look around. Do the pedestrians have hard shadows because the sun is bouncing down between two tall buildings? Or perhaps each person has multiple shadows heading in different directions?