Where does light come from? The sun, duh! But wait a minute, that’s not always the sole source of light. Think about a beach scene in full moonlight. You’re able to see for miles, and not because the moon is a a burning ball of gas. Rather, the moon is reflecting the light from the sun. Most people take into account direct light sources (e.g. Sun, Camera Flash), but often overlook indirect light sources (e.g. any surface reflecting direct light).
Why is indirect light so important? Every object in a scene has a different reflective value, and therefore gives off a different amount of light. Although the sun, or the source of light, might be giving off a uniform light, the reflective qualities of objects in your photo will vary. A white box will reflect a lot of light, while a black box will reflect very little. These surfaces also act as light sources, reflecting light onto other objects in the image. It’s very important to remember that every object within an image reflects light. It’s also important to understand that this light is not uniform, and the intensity of light will vary throughout your image.
When I approach a scene I always think about:
- What and where is the source of light? Flash, the sun, artificial lights, etc...?
- How intense is the source? Or, sources of light?
- What are the objects in the scene? How are they reflecting the light from the source?