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By: Hoan K. Trinh

After writing a blog on The Golden Hour, which is more or less solely dependent on natural light, I figure I would write a few words on non-natural lighting or what is often called artificial lighting.  Maybe those who are new to photography or just plain curious as to how a photo is created could pick up a thing or two.

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This is my first artificially lit photo, taken quite a few years back.  I just put a couple of desk lamps on top of a few cardboard boxes in the garage and there you have it.  I photographed this with a Kodak Z710 point and shoot camera.  Nothing fancy, the key is to make the light show your off your subject better. I wonder what would happen if show up to a photoshoot with a bunch of cardboard boxes and a point and shoot camera?


Artificial light doesn’t mean that you have to be in the studio or that you have to drag boxes and boxes of equipment  everywhere.  I actually took this photo of an old friend of mine out in the parking lot of a supermarket.  I held a Nikon SB-600 flash in my left hand and used the pop up flash on my Nikon D90 to trigger it.   Again, I just used the artificial light from the flash to bring some attention to the subject, it’s a pretty simple concept if you think about it.  The reason I was holding the flash with my left hand rather having it on camera is so the direction of the light is different from that of the camera, creating a more dimensional photo.  After some negotiations, she only allowed me one photograph so Nikon CLS came through that day :).


Like the photo above, this is also a one light set up with an SB-600 fired from camera left.  But being on an actual photo shoot with an actual light stand, umbrellas, and a willing model does help.  Obviously, you cannot have that kind of set up in a parking lot so there is a trade off.  I also took more than one photo :).


A simple two light set up: one on camera left the other on camera right to create a cross lighting scenario.   There are a lot of different ways to light a subject, but ultimately, it all come down to how you want to bring attention to your subject.


This is actually the same location as the photo above it, just a slightly different time of day.  I had one flash on camera left at a 45 degree angle and and another flash on camera right at 180 degree acting as a rim light.  However, what’s interesting to me is that in this photo, the artificial light only tell half of the story.  The natural light in the background is what give the photo such a dramatic look.  So, you have to balance your artificial light in with everything else to make a successful photo :).


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