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What is the definition of the main light
Old 11-14-2007, 08:51 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I have to give a basic talk on portrait photography at the local high school and until now I hadn't really thought about how to define the main light. It's not necessarily the light putting out the most power. Is it the light that illuminates the greatest area of the subject from the viewpoint of the camera - that could also be a fill light. Thank you.
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Re: What is the definition of the main light
Old 11-14-2007, 09:05 PM   #2 (permalink)
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The main light in a scene is the principle source of light and is used to establish the shadows and the modelling in the scene. The direction and quality of this light is the most important in establishing the general look of the picture.
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Re: What is the definition of the main light
Old 11-14-2007, 09:12 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I guess if it establishes the general look of the picture the main light can be a background light in a sihlouette or even a hair light if the other lights are secondary in rendering features.
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Re: What is the definition of the main light
Old 11-14-2007, 11:10 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Here is the way to describe it so that anyone can instantly understand it. Suppose you have only one light and you are in a dark room. No matter where you put that light, it is the main light for your subject. I think everyone will agree with that. Now look at the light that falls on the subject. Ask, do I need to add another light? What will the light do? Will it soften shadows? Then it is a fill light. Will it rim the hair? Then it is a hair light --- and so forth. The whole scene is dominated by that main light. If you set up other lights and then take away the main light, you would see a total transformation of the scene. Also keep in mind that it is not necessarily the light that lights the majority of the subject. The main light is also the only light that should cast visible shadows.
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Re: What is the definition of the main light
Old 11-15-2007, 08:08 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R_Fredrick_Smith View Post
Here is the way to describe it so that anyone can instantly understand it. Suppose you have only one light and you are in a dark room. No matter where you put that light, it is the main light for your subject. I think everyone will agree with that. Now look at the light that falls on the subject. Ask, do I need to add another light? What will the light do? Will it soften shadows? Then it is a fill light. Will it rim the hair? Then it is a hair light --- and so forth. The whole scene is dominated by that main light. If you set up other lights and then take away the main light, you would see a total transformation of the scene. Also keep in mind that it is not necessarily the light that lights the majority of the subject. The main light is also the only light that should cast visible shadows.
Cheers,
rfs
I like this definition a lot! Thanks for sharing that wonderfully simple analogy!

Good day sir!

Mike
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Re: What is the definition of the main light
Old 11-16-2007, 07:56 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferrell View Post
I have to give a basic talk on portrait photography at the local high school and until now I hadn't really thought about how to define the main light. It's not necessarily the light putting out the most power. Is it the light that illuminates the greatest area of the subject from the viewpoint of the camera - that could also be a fill light. Thank you.
I have shot some portraits for a couple of area college fraternaties for a third party. They required me to use a specific lighting set up of two main lights and one background light. The two main lights are set at equal power settings on the strobes. This would be a one to one ratio on the main lights.
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