Strobes, softboxes, spotlights, flash, headlights, flashlight, sun.  What on earth am I talking about?  All those things and more are different light sources.

Lighting is one of the most critical elements in a photo.  Too bright and parts of the image can blow out or cast heavy shadows, too dim and your subject won’t stand out or you could start to introduce noise into the image.

A photograph should consist of three things.  Subject, composition and lighting.  Composition and lighting are more important than subject because even the dullest of subjects can be made to look interesting with some creative lighting and composition.

Your photos simply won’t make the grade if you don’t put some thought into how your image is lighted.  Any light source is fine if used in a creative way to produce an interesting image.

Those that sell images on microstock sites like shutterstock and istockphoto will tell you that in order to isolate a subject, an extremely bright, soft, even light is best.  Some use a light tent with at least three 500 watt globes (one on either side and one above) to isolate those small objects while others use large softboxes, umbrella flash and reflectors to do the same thing on a much larger scale.

Macro shots of insects in the garden are best taken on bright, overcast days for the same all over soft light you get with a studio model set up.

Lighting is something you should think about every time you compose a shot.

What kind of light is being used?

Where is the light coming from?

Is there another angle I could use to get better lighting?

Should I wait another couple of hours for the sun to move?

What other kind of lighting could I use?

Should I use a reflector?

These are all questions that should run through your head before you get too carried away with taking photos.  By all means take a few shots first and then look at the image on your viewfinder to see if you could improve your shot with a little lighting change.

Practice makes perfect so next time your taking some photos stop and think a little about your lighting situation.  Could it be better? How?  Try a few different light sources and angles to see if you can produce a better shot.

Happy Shooting!

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