It’s all about the angle

I may have mentioned it before, but the angle of the light on your subject can make a massive difference to your images.  With natural light you are more limited than with artificial light, but it’s always worth looking closely at your subject and working out where the light should come from to give the best image.  With moveable artificial light sources you have complete control.

Here are four macro images of some paper packaging material.  They were taken with a fixed camera, a fixed subject, and a moveable light (electronic flash).  All I have done is changed where the light comes from.

"Flat frontal light"

“Flat frontal light”

In this image the flash is close to the camera’s pop up flash.  The light is from the front, flat, and uninteresting.  There’s no real idea of the 3-dimensional structure of the paper.

"Light to the left a bit"

“Light to the left a bit”

Here the light has been moved so it’s coming from the left of the frame at about 45 degrees to the paper.  We’re now getting some shadows (large and small), which begins to show some dimensionality.

"Light to the left a lot"

“Light to the left a lot”

Moving the light further to the left, so the light is coming at a shallow angle across the paper, gives this image.  There are now lots of strong shadows, and you get a really good idea of how much structure there is in the paper.

"Light from behind"

“Light from behind”

This final image shows the light coming from behind the paper.  There’s a loss of depth information compared to the previous image, but there’s now a lovely rim light on some of the holes, and the paper’s texture is much more visible.

Four light directions, four looks.  You have the power to make the image look how you want it.

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