Tech Tip Tuesday: Reverse Engineering the Lighting in a Photo

Replicating light setups is possible if you know what to look for

caleb kerr
Mar 1, 2017 · 3 min read

1. Look at something shiny

Just about every shiny object with have some reflections showing in it, and often, you can see the light source that was used. An easy place to start is looking at a model’s eyes. Eyes are round and shiny, so as long as they’re looking forward, it’s likely the light will be reflecting in their eyes. You can see what lighting modifier was used (if any), as well as sometimes get an idea of the distance.

Photo shot for №4 St. James.

2. Look at the shadows

Big light sources (relative to the subject) create soft shadows. Small light sources create hard shadows. Harsh, crisp shadows indicates a direct, small light source. Soft and smooth gradients indicate soft, indirect light. How quickly a curved surface (like a face) transitions from light to shadow indicates how large the light source is.


calebkerr

Caleb Kerr’s blog exploring photography.

caleb kerr

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action + outdoor photographer || www.calebkerr.com || IG: calebkerr

calebkerr

calebkerr

Caleb Kerr’s blog exploring photography.