When you create a portrait, lighting is everything. With the right light, you reveal all of the character and warmth of your subject. Lighting isn't rocket science, but you do have to take advantage of what nature has dealt you and modify or augment the light source with flash or other devices. In this chapter, I show you how to work with camera flash and natural light sources, and how to modify both.
The source and size of the light you use for your portraits is very important. When you deal with a small light source, you have very harsh shadows. Picture the sun at noon. It's a relatively small light source because it's so far away from the planet. The small size of the sun relative to the earth creates very harsh shadows when it illuminates something. Now picture a cloudy day. The sun is still there, but it's hidden by the clouds. The sun hits the clouds, and it's diffused to create a very pleasing light source that is large with hardly any shadows. If you do have shadows, they're very soft with a diffuse edge. Compare this with the hard knife-edge shadow you get with a small light source. Therefore, it's important to use the largest light source possible when your goal is to create a flattering portrait. In upcoming sections, I share some techniques for using the most flattering light source possible.