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  • Writer's pictureRoberta Govoni

How to better understand light in Photography


SPOT METERING - The camera reads the light only in the spot that is the centre. Useful in backlighting, very dark or bright subject.

Centre WEIGHT - In this mode the camera judges the entire frame but gives priority to the centre of the frame

MATRIX - Measure the light of the entire image, dividing the entire frame into multiple “zones”, which are then all analyzed on an individual basis for light and dark tones.


  • Front lighting. Clear, colourful pics, shadows fall directly behind the subject, can cause some photographs to look flat, boring and lack depth and definition.

  • Top lighting. Middle of the day. Rarely flattering, giving most subjects a flat, uninteresting look. Sky and sea are bluer.

  • Back lighting. The sun is in front of your camera. Produces silhouettes at sunset. Produces lens flare and glowing effect. Bring attention to the subject (expose on the subject) and gets a dreamy look.

  • Side lighting. Or Hatchet. Brings out textures and emphasizes shapes, introducing a third dimension. Good for portrait, add character and personality.

  • Below. Ghost effect

  • Above. Harsh interrogation light

  • Zebra. Blinds

  • Rembrandt. From both side and the front.


  • Brighter light. Use a faster shutter speed to stop action, a smaller aperture to get a great depth of field, a lower ISO for pictures noise free.

  • Lower light. Use a slower shutter speed can cause blurred motion, a wider aperture to get a shallow depth of field, a high ISO (5000, 6400) to get a sensor more sensitive to light. Use a tripod and manual exposure.

Daylight. Sunny condition, clear blue sky. Shade.

Cloudy. Warm up the scene

Fluorescent. Turn in magenta

Tungsten bulb. Correct yellow light in blue



Auto (AWB)


Sunny days: Move the subject in the shade, deep shadows and bright highlight.

Low Sun: golden hour

Bright, but overcast: good for weddings

Grey day: get higher up and shoot down to eliminate the sky

North light: Soft, even, natural. Good on portrait and still life

Stormy days: dramatic lighting, landscape

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