More New Lighting Samples (Side Light)

by William Lulow

The next lighting setup I’d like to demonstrate is the SIDE LIGHTING:


As the name implies, this lighting is from the side of the subject. It is placed 90 degrees from the subject/camera axis and it basically lights half the face. The light should not spill over to the other side of the face. If it does, then you haven’t set it at 90 degrees to the subject. It should be evident that SIDE LIGHTS emphasize texture since there are parts of the subject off of which the light will basically glance. So, if you want to pick up the texture of a subject, give it a SIDE LIGHT.

Sometimes a SIDE LIGHT can be used to hide features you don’t want to see. It is also a dramatic lighting which can be used to create all sorts of different effects if the subject turns to either side. It is a great lighting to use when you need to show detail in fabric, for example, because of its ability to bring out extra detail.

Note the complete lack of detail on the subject’s unlit side. This can be made lighter or darker with the addition of another light or a reflector. (More about this when we discuss the application of two lights). Here is the SIDE LIGHT from the other side:


It’s important to note here that the human face is not symmetrical. It looks different from each side. It is the job of the portrait photographer to find the subject’s best side and exploit it in order to make images that the subject will like, especially if the subject will be the final judge of the picture.