Balancing the Light for Dramatic Effect

The basis for my style of photography is light, especially off camera lighting sometimes referred to in photography circles as one-light.  I add auxiliary or additional light to 90% of my images.  There are the occasional photos that are “natural” or ambient light only, but using additional light allows me to bring a sense of drama and atmosphere to the photos.  I came across several photos today that give a good depiction of the lighting scenario that I might encounter in an indoor setting.  These photos represent the various approaches that could be taken given the location, lighting, and composition of the scene.

The photos show a composition of an indoor table centerpiece that is heavily backlit by a nearby window.  The first image is composed and created using settings that would yield a decent exposure for the centerpiece, but the background is “blown out”.  In fact the brightness of the background is so great that it makes capturing the centerpiece somewhat difficult without losing a lot of detail and contrast in the subject.

indoor wedding centerpiece photography

The second image below is created using settings that capture the background in a more pleasing and interesting manner.  The image reveals much better color and detail in the background, but you can see the main subject goes almost completely dark in shadow, with very little detail.  This approach can produce an interesting silhouette of the subject, but in this case I would rather see the detail that went into the centerpiece.

indoor wedding centerpiece photography

The final image below, is created using directional off camera lighting that is balanced with the bright natural window light.  Overall the image is better balanced in terms of the exposure, revealing beautiful detail in the background and stunning detail in the subject. The other aspect that brings a pleasing look to the subject is the directional lighting as opposed to “on-camera” flash.  With the additional light coming in from the upper left of the subject, we have more dimensional lighting giving the subject a more interesting appearance.  On-camera flash would have given the image a very flat and lifeless look.  Overall the image has a nice dramatic atmosphere that enhances the beauty and appearance of the centerpiece.

indoor wedding centerpiece photography

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