The further I have gone on my photography journey, the more I have come to learn about the importance of understanding light. I believe light is the single most important element that makes a photograph. Not a great subject. Not great composition. It’s great lighting that will make a photograph amazing.
So what is great light? There is no one type of light that makes a photograph good or bad. Hardness, brightness, color, direction. All these things and more will dictate how your image looks, and more importantly, how it feels.
One of the ways I’ve learned to see and understand light and how it affects my landscape photography is by learning about and understanding portrait lighting. Portrait photographers know that the way light falls on the human form dramatically affects the photograph.
Although you can’t control the light in landscape photography, learning to apply the principles of portrait lighting will help you create far more dramatic landscapes that make the viewer feel something.
Light and Shadow
At its most basic level, a photograph is made up of light and shadow. We have a tendency to focus a lot on light in photography, but shadows are just as important, if not even more so. Shadows reveal shape, depth, and texture.
Portrait photographers understand light and shadow better than anyone. They shape a portrait by moving the light source around until the light falls in just the right way so that the shadows reveal the contours of the subject. When shooting with natural light that can’t be controlled, they will move the subject instead.