Learn to light portraits by photographing vegetables

Nov 22, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Learn to light portraits by photographing vegetables

Nov 22, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Today seems to be a day for portrait related posts. We’ve had the breakdown studio lights from Mark Wallace. And a complete start to finish location portrait process from Francisco Hernandez. Now, from Ed Verosky, we have another way to practice portrait lighting and experiment. Photographing vegetables.

YouTube video

It might seem like a bit of an odd subject at first for practising portrait lighting. But many vegetables, as well as fruits, can offer a great insight into how light works. Like people, they often have curves in all kinds of strange places. They reflect specular highlights and cast shadows. As do many other objects one can experiment with.

Even though they’re not people, it’s an easy way to quickly see the effect of changing the light source. How the position, size, distance, or number of light sources will affect how it presents to the subject and its environment. To translate this over to human subjects, one only needs to scale things up.

Joe Edelman suggests a similar method to learn the principles of lighting using an egg. I’ve also seen Don Giannatti teach these principles using pool balls in a number of his online classes.

While they might not be the obvious subjects for learning, they are effective. Fully understanding the principles of light, and actually trying it, will allow you to light anything. A vegetable, an egg, pool balls, a person, or anything else.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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2 responses to “Learn to light portraits by photographing vegetables”

  1. Chur Chill Avatar
    Chur Chill

    Not sure how happy a portrait sitter would be with so much specular highlight on their skin with those harsh transitions… Like in the other tutorial John posted today. Might work on a handsome rugged male, but a bell pepper or pretty woman might be less charmed :)

  2. Mike Nicholson Avatar
    Mike Nicholson

    or an egg.