The Edge of Light: TappTips Part 2

May 21, 2010

Photo Tips

Model: Stephanie Garcia © Eddie Tapp

[Editors Note: This week we have Eddie Tapp on a weeklong series titled “The Edge of Light” which is a series of articles on seeing light. We’ll have one article day starting today Sunday, and continuing all the way thru Saturday!]

Pocket of Light

Easy to find inside a tunnel but more difficult to see the light when using an over hanging element such as under a tree or on the edge of a porch. On location looking for the right light especially when creating a portrait, I will often look for a pocket of light, overhanging trees or some structure that will tunnel the light direction. Finding a pocket of light will often come with light from opposite directions allowing for a beautiful rim or kicker light. Find a tunnel shaped area (or even a tunnel) and explore the light.

Model: Kelly Herd © Eddie Tapp

Cookie Light

Cooke lighting came from the movie industry and was made famous by Celo Cucoloris by developing a flag-like unit with a pattern cut out, allowing the light to come thru it and create a mottled shadow on the scene.

Cucoloris flag

The image of Myla was created with sun light coming thru a bush creating the cookie light. In my workshops and seminars, I refer to a processing technique in Photoshop and Lightroom that I call Cookie Lighting where you can easily create this effect on any image.

Model: Myla Poole © Eddie Tapp

Model: John Carpenter © Eddie Tapp

Reflected Light

Reflected light is or can be a partner to any other light including a pocket of light and is used in many of my photographs. Light reflected from any surface can become the main such as light that will bounce off of a light wall or glass building from the sun. I will often use a reflector outdoors as either the main light or a rim light. When I set up a studio lighting, I’ll use a main light, background light and sometimes a 3rd light as a kicker or hair light, but my fill light is always a reflector where the main light will bounce and reflect light into my subject. Event photographers will bounce a strobe light on the wall or ceiling to get reflected light quality.

Model: April Cervantez © Eddie Tapp

Painting with Light

Got a flashlight handy? This is not for the hand held image, you must have a 1) tripod, 2) a black cover to hold in front of your lens between exposures, this can be felt, cardboard or anything black. 3) someone to hold the black cover or someone to hold and paint with a lighting tool. Get ready for some great fun and experiment with painting with light. Over the years, light painting projects have covered everything from painting a large building with one strobe light creating multiple pops from various locations to using a flashlight shining on the subject or pointing at the camera.

One of the great artist of today, Ben Willmore is a master at painting with light using flashlights, sparklers and ambient light and has an amazing series of images usage this technique. Check out his work at: &

Image © Ben Willmore

Image © Ben Willmore

Window Light

Window light can create a beautiful light source and easily creates a pocket of light to work with. Light that comes through windows can have every attribute of light quality I’ve mentioned and will generally go from a bright light and fall off to a darker light very quickly. Judy Host is a natural light specialist and uses window light frequently in her works.

Image © Judy Host

Image © Judy Host

Mixed Light

Unless you are using your own lighting equipment, chances are you are using mixed light. Mixed light comes from different light sources, angels, kelvin degrees and can generate challenges in our images to get the right color. Become aware of the mixed lighting that you are using and take advantage of the opportunity when possible. It is certainly possible to make area color corrections is Lightroom and Photoshop.

Model: Andrew Reynoso © Eddie Tapp

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This post was written by:

- who has written 10 posts on The Digital Photo Experience.

Eddie Tapp is an award-winning photographer, lecturer, consultant, and author on digital imaging issues. With over 25 years of experience in computer technology, Eddie has been actively involved in educating and consulting corporations, studios and agencies in the applications of digital imaging workflow, color management, pre-press and digital photography globally through workshops, seminars, on-site consulting and training. He’s the author of Photoshop Workflow Setups and Practical Color Management, the first two in a series, Eddie Tapp on Digital Photography, published by O’Reilly Media.

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One Response to “The Edge of Light: TappTips Part 2”

  1. Mitzs Says:

    Oh wow, I love your portraits. I just want to paint them! Thank you for the articles. I am putting a pot of coffee on now to read them.


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