An Explanation of Lighting Ratios in Photography

The shadow and fact that this image was lit on only one side makes this very low key

The shadow and fact that this image was lit on only one side makes this very low key

Lighting ratios are one of the principles every photographer who uses off-camera flash doesn’t think they’ll need, but in reality makes their life much simpler once mastered and practiced. The most famous use of lighting ratios has to do with making a white background go totally white.

In general, it helps you figure out what an image will essentially look like and how much power needs to be produced from each light in your scene.

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The Basics of Interacting with a Portrait Subject/Model

Model: Bec Fordyce

Model: Bec Fordyce

Fact of life: Most people in front of the camera cannot read your mind or figure out what you’re going for in your final image. There needs to be a back and forth conversation between the photographer and the subject to create a photo.

Interacting with a subject in front of the camera is essential to anyone looking to get into portraiture, and after having a creative vision in mind, it’s also the way that you can convey to someone what you’re looking for in a photo. Besides, it wastes less time.

Dan from AdoramaTV tries to illustrate this and explain it very simply in the latest OnSet video.

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2 Minute Tutorial: Making Strobe Lighting Look Like Natural Lighting

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One of the best skills that you can master as a photographer is learning how to make the light output from studio strobes and flashes look like natural lighting. It involves a complicated mix of you shutter speed, ISO, and aperture settings along with just the right light output.

The folks over at AdoramaTV have a quick two and a half minute tutorial on how to make studio strobes mimic the look of natural light. More specifically, they blend the strobe output in with natural light coming from a window. Dan, the presenter, shows us that making an image look like it was naturally lit involves using light modifiers to soften the light. He starts out with just window light, then adds in light being bounced off of a wall, then adds in light from a monolight with a large reflector with a diffusion panel.

Using those two points of light and by blending it in the natural window lighting, they create an image that looks like it was lit totally naturally.

Check out the video on making strobe lighting look natural after the jump. But for even more tutorials on this, check out our very own and our roundup of all of the lighting tutorials that we did last year.

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Mark Wallace Spends Way Too Long Explaining Why He Switched to Leica From Canon

Screenshot taken from the video

Screenshot taken from the video

Photographer Mark Wallace recently switched from using Canon DSLRs to the Leica M as his primary camera kit. While many videos like this have been long and thorough, they spend much less time focusing on gear and more time on feature sets–with the most famous being Jason Lanier’s.

Wallace talks about how he is replacing lots of the zoom lenses in his Canon kit with small primes. For example, the 16-35mm f2.8 L is being replaced by the Leica 21mm f3.4 and his 70-200mm f2.8 L IS USM II is being replaced by a 135mm prime. He spends a lot of time talking about weight and size–specifically in regards to how it affects him when he is travelling as a photographer. Wallace cites situations where he is wearing over 60lbs of gear and needs to run for a subway or a cab–which can sometimes be all too much of a reality for NYC photographers.

The majority of the video talks about the gear with only the last couples of minutes getting to the real meat of the deal–and could have been cut down tremendously to just focus on the nitty gritty. Mark explains that in a place like where he is in Brazil, DSLRs can get easily stolen. But a Leica rangefinder on the other hand is ignored somewhat. Indeed, rangefinders can be very fooling and are much more low profile except to those that actually know better.

Mark Wallace’s video for AdoramaTV is after the jump.

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This Little Red Riding Hood Shoot Balances Low Ambient Light with Strobe

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It’s very, very tough to balance low amounts of ambient light with strobe output–but in the latest video from AdoramaTV, photographer Gavin Hoey does a rather solid job.

Gavin takes a model into the forest and captures multiple looks with her but the biggest challenge that he faces is how to combine strobe lighting with low amounts of ambient lighting. Of course, one might think to just overpower the ambient lighting–but what Gavin wants to do is mix the two–and that can be very tough to do.

Why so difficult? The photographer has to make a critical decision of either:

– Shooting the scene with a very slow shutter speed and a low ISO: therefore giving them a shutter speed that they probably can’t hand hold the camera at but still gain greater detail.


– Shoot the scene at a higher ISO and therefore get reduced chance of camera shake but also need to crank the aperture and strobe down conversely.

Gavin’s decision has to do with his creative vision for the image and he not only takes you through shooting the photos but also the post-production.

The video is after the jump, but it is almost 14 minutes long. So watch it during lunch because the knowledge of balancing Low Ambient Light with Strobe can be applied to so many creative ideas.

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