A Super Helpful and Comprehensive Explanation of How Lighting Height Affects Your Photos

One of the most fundamental parameters of lighting is the height at which you place the light. This excellent video will teach you everything you need to know about properly placing a light source or reflector at the right height. 

Coming to you from the Koldunov Brothers, this awesome video will teach you everything you need to know about light height, whether you're shooting with artificial lights or using a reflector with natural light. In fact, one of the most common mistakes I see is a photographer propping a reflector against their knees while it's laying on the ground and the sun is behind the subject. This makes your subject look mostly lit from underneath, which looks quite unnatural, as our brains are accustomed to light appearing from above. In fact, it's so unnatural that it's quite often used to creative effect in both movies and tv shows. There's more to lighting height than just avoiding deep eye shadows and horror movie looks, however; there are quite a few subtle physical and aesthetic cues that can add up to big differences in the final results. Check out the video above for the complete rundown of everything you need to know. 

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3 Comments
Robert Altman's picture

Interestingly ghoulish vampire under lighting has some how become a 'cool' look in the NY Times Style coverage - just a few examples of how ugly has been confused with edgy/trendy-
https://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2018/09/14/style/bill-clinton-tony-bla...
and
https://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2018/09/11/fashion/lake-bell-carmelo-a...
And this is incredibly consistent throughout their 'scene/party' coverage

Jay Jay's picture

I dont think it's done as a cool look more so than that photographer's camera not able to handle the ambient lighting (in ISO), and their inability to use a speedlight to properly light the subject, instead blasting them with light as a means to compensate for their caemera's limitation with shooting in low light. I shoot with a 5D 4 and never have had that problem, nor with the 3.

Garth Scholten's picture

I love the inverted face mask example. It makes the affects of low angle lighting very easy to understand.