From The Archives
By Ed Chop
Front Light - At the front of the subject, at or near the camera axis. This is a shadowless light that gives a flat appearance. Fill light is frequently of this type.
Sidelight - Positioned directly to the side of the subject. Sometimes called textured lighting, sidelighting produces high contrast between highlight and shadow. This is not usually good for portraits.
Backlight - With the light directly behind the subject, a silhouette is produced. This is used to separate the subject from the background.
Semi-backlight - When the light is placed between the side and back lighting positions, form is easily perceived, especially with cubical objects.
Semi-front - Placing the light between the front and side positions will show form best with spherical or convex objects. This makes it an excellent type of lighting for portraits.
Don't forget that these lights can also be at different elavations for different effects and usage. Overhead lighting is pleasing, since this is what we are used to seeing from sunlight. However, it can be very contrasty by itself and is best used with some type of fill lighting from below. Bottom lighting is very unnatural and not usually pleasing. It is most useful for special effect, especially for a horror movie effect.
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