Understanding how light and shadow falls on different shaped objects is pretty important. It gives us the ability to be able to quickly recognise problems with lighting setups in many different situations with all kinds of subjects. It also helps us to remedy them more quickly. Jay P Morgan’s recently launched new series, Laws of Light shows us these principles in action.
In the first video, Jay showed us the humble sphere. Now, we’re taking a good look at the cube. It seems like a random shape we wouldn’t need to worry about in the real world, but cubes can pop up all over the place. There’s the obvious product box photography, but there are many every day objects that fit into the general form of a cube type shape.
Unless we’re doing product photography, boxes probably aren’t high up on our list of subjects. But, the same principles can apply to buildings, tablets & chairs, or any similarly shaped items. Of course, with buildings, you don’t exactly get much control over the light. You can however, quickly identify if it’s worth taking a shot, or coming back in a couple of hours when the sun’s moved over a bit more.
The subject doesn’t have to be a perfect cube. Jay also demonstrates the principles using a cereal box shaped object. He talks about the exercises he had to do for college, photographing the cereal box lit in every possible different way.
Cube like shapes in daily photographic life really are everywhere. Jay shows a few examples of cubes in the real world. Like the buildings, we may not always get full control over the lighting on the subject. We can, however, wait until the sun or object itself moves to a more flatting angle. Or, add reflectors, flash, or other light sources to help even things out a bit.
The sphere in the previous video and now the cube highlight the two extremes. Soft gentle curves and hard flat surfaces. The difficulty now is when you’re faced with objects combining both flat surfaces with hard edges, as well as smooth curves. That’s where the cylinder comes in, and that will be the subject for Jay’s third video.
Lighting cubes, spheres, and other primitives might seem like boring technical exercises with no real purpose. But the purpose is to educate yourself and gain experience. To take things a step further and see where you can push such a relatively limited subject. This is why so many people do these boring technical exercises. To test theories and improve technique and ability.
What are some of your favourite exercises to keep lighting principles fresh in your mind? What do you do to keep practising your lighting when not shooting your preferred subjects? Do you even bother with technical exercises? Will you start now? Let us know, and tell us your thoughts in the comments.