Improve Your Photography by Learning to Light a Simple Cube

As a continuation of his “Laws of Light” video series, Jay P. Morgan of The Slanted Lens describes a variety of ways to light a simple white cube on a white background. This video demonstrates how changing the placement of a single light can effectively emphasize the three-dimensional aspect of the cube and create separation between the cube and the background.

We previously shared the first video of the "Laws of Light" series here, which described principles of lighting a sphere. Here, placement of both the cube and the light are carefully examined in order to differentiate each of the three visible faces of the cube. A more evenly lit cube is accomplished by switching from hard, directional light to soft, indirect light, which also increases the softness of the shadows. A fill card can also be added to brighten the shadow face of the cube. The tutorial also demonstrates how to visually separate the cube from the background by altering the direction of light. As the cube and background are white, only controlling the amount of light that falls onto both the cube and background will result in their effective separation.    

It is remarkable how changing the direction of a single light can have such profound effects on the appearance of a subject as simple as a cube. Applying these basic principles to any situation in which you are photographing anything with flat, perpendicular surfaces using either artificial or natural light will help to keep your images balanced and give you the control to convey the mood that you are intending to evoke with your photographs. 

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3 Comments

Jake Reeder's picture

At photo school the very first lesson was getting lighting ratios perfect on a cube! I think there's something to that.

yes, and then we had to master it on a mirrored cube.

Jason Hughes's picture

We're going to have a lot of Brookies comment on this one.