How to Create Different Moods Using Lighting (In Photography)

You know that moment when the clouds open up, light pours out and you can hear the heavenly voice of the angels singing Ahhhhhhh? That scene has been portrayed a hundred different times in a hundred different movies. Why? If you ask me it’s because of the light.

Light. LIGHT! Lighting is used in movies, music videos, photography, etc. to show something important. (It also helps you to find your underwear at five in the morning when you forgot to put the laundry away and instead shoved it into a pile by your bed)

Photographers use lighting to create a mood. A feeling. An emotion. It’s not easy, trust me. As a newbie with studio lighting, I am just scratching the surface of what my studio lights can do for me. I have always been an advocate for natural light. God created the perfect accent, the perfect soft box when he created the sun. And God doesn’t make mistakes!

With that being said, natural light is fleeting. All photographers know about the “Golden hour”; That moment just before sunset when the light turns from harsh and bright to soft and gold, casting long, dramatic shadows. When the Golden Hour is gone you’re reduced to fixing grainy, dark pictures in editing (Which is stupid. So don’t do it. That’s an order)

This is the reason I un-puckered my ass cheeks and doled out Fifty bucks on a cheap lighting set up.

I bought these:

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Which you can buy Here.

They serve me well and give me so much control in my studio. For this set up I put my umbrellas on either side of the subject with the accent light to the right and behind (It get’s moved around to fullfill it’s masters needs).

A simple white reflector was placed in from of the subject to bounce light onto her face, since any one of the lights directly on her face would be too harsh. SIDE NOTE: My fancy “reflector” is a white piece of cardboard from the dollar store. I also have black and one covered in foil. Did I mention I’m cheap?

Speaking of the “Subject” she does have a name. This adorable little hooman is my second born and the destroyer of worlds. She is Benji, conqueror of all toilet seats and sports a face that is likely to send her Daddy to an early grave.

So now that you know Benji, let’s get started. The first setup I am going to show you looks like this:

example3

My drawings might just rival Da’Vinci, I know, I know. So these shots were created using the two umbrellas and the reflector ONLY. It creates a very soft even light.

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Simple, beautiful.

BUT if we add the accent light behind her (and to the right, remember?) it adds a dramatic glow behind her and places a beautiul shine to her hair.

Setup looks like this:

example1

By Golly I am amazing!

Pictures look like this:

It’s amazing what a little light can do for a picture.

For the next set up we put one umbrella in time out and had the accent light assassinated. Setup looked like this:example4

Doing this brought a nice one directional light to the picture casting dramatic shadows:

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This setup is nice for moody self portraits. But if you want even MORE drama (Because we are all basic and we all love drama *rolls eyes*) Then we can send BOTH umbrellas on a shopping trip and use ONLY the accent light.

example2

The outcome? Out of this world, dramatic, moody, dark….all the fun stuff. Mmmm.

It’s fun to play around with the lights and settings and come up with different moods. I switched between a black and white background as well, just to create a different feel.

(No editing was done to these pictures)

Hope this little how-to helps! Happy shooting and happy editing my peons!

4 thoughts on “How to Create Different Moods Using Lighting (In Photography)

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