An area that beginning photographers often ask about is what they can do to help emphasize the subject in their images. This article will discuss selective lighting, which may be the most powerful tool for highlighting a subject. We will begin to consider light more creatively instead of strictly from technical view. We use light primarily for proper exposure but there is more here than meets the eye until you really see it.
When looking through the lens, do you see only your subject or do you see more? Can you really see and feel what the light or darkness is offering to you?
As we are all aware, life is a mystery. Darkness evokes a feeling of mystery that you can create in your photos. What does the darkness represent? Do you want to move forward to find out what lies beyond? Are you content to simply look into it and wonder? Is it the subject of your photo that is of most importance or is it a symbolic message that is expressed? As the photographer, you are in control.
When possible, look up a photograph of Zion National Park by Hiroji Kubota. Because Kubota uses the contrast of shadowed peaks beyond, he is able to emphasize the surface of the lit mountain in the foreground. Can you feel the drama that is built by this interplay of light and dark? Here is a little landscape photography tip that you can use when you are out looking for a shot. Simply be observant of areas of shadow and try to build them into your story.
Great images very often combine multiple, complimentary techniques to emphasize their subject. Here's another idea you can use to create an easy photo with studio lighting. Aim a single spot light directly on your subject. In the way, you use lighting very selectively but also as a kind of frame because only your subject is illuminated.
If you want to take your images from boring and bland to exciting and bold, give some selective photography lighting techniques a try. You might be pleasantly surprised at how much of a difference this can make next time you are out looking for a new image to catch.