Learn how to make the light work for you

One thing about being into pho­tog­ra­phy; you quick­ly real­ize that there’s a lot to learn from oth­er pho­tog­ra­phers.

A sub­ject that’s always chal­lenged me has been the con­cept of mak­ing light work for me rather than forc­ing me to adapt to the demands of the light sources.

Learn­ing from oth­er pho­tog­ra­phers through their light­ing dia­grams has helped me bet­ter under­stand how a par­tic­u­lar tool (reflec­tor, barn doors, snoot, etc) should be used to get a spe­cif­ic result.

And recent­ly, I found some things that let me work through the think­ing exer­cise need­ed to cre­ate bet­ter-lit images.

OLDC1.jpgFree! Online! And with Com­mu­ni­ty!
First up is this cool Online Light­ing Dia­gram Cre­ator (OLDC) tool and com­mu­ni­ty.

The Online Light­ing Dia­gram Cre­ator is a sim­ple drag-and-drop tool that lets you build a rough lay­out of your light­ing set­up.

I find this kind of tool valu­able as it forces me to look at all the light sources that cur­rent­ly exist in the loca­tion, and con­sid­er adding ele­ments to bounce or increase / decrease the light before I even get the gear out to make the image.

And once the dia­gram is fin­ished, I can eas­i­ly print out or email it to my iPad for ref­er­ence when I get to set­ting up the shot.



I Men­tioned com­mu­ni­ty above, and that’s one of the key aspects of OLDC, the online pho­to­graph­ic com­mu­ni­ty.

In it, oth­er pho­tog­ra­phers share their light­ing dia­grams and the result­ing images cre­at­ed with that light­ing set­up — a great way to learn some new light­ing tricks!



Mov­ing off the desk­top
Though if you want to work exclu­sive­ly mobile — then check out Strobox — a free light­ing dia­gram app for iPhone / iPod Touch (also works on iPad in com­pat­i­bil­i­ty mode).

Func­tion­al­ly it’s very sim­i­lar to OLDC. Drag & drop lay­out works the same, and when you’re done, you can eas­i­ly email the fin­ished dia­gram or export it to your pho­to roll for shar­ing.

Forces you to think
These are very niche tools for a very spe­cif­ic appli­ca­tion, but if you’re want­i­ng to stretch your pho­to­graph­ic chops a bit by study­ing oth­er photographer’s use of light and light­ing equip­ment, and maybe share your own setups, then these tools are a good start­ing point.

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