A word about a technique that has been used for centuries: Ciaroscuro. Or “light-dark”. Meaning the interplay of, often dramatic, light and dark in a picture.

This is not new; artists did the same in 1490. Chiaroscuro helps introduce depth, dimension, into two-dimensional pictures.

Traditionally, Chiaroscuro refers to any darks and lights introducing such modelling; in photography,  we more often take it to refer to strong contrasts between the dark and light areas.  But in essence, proper lighting is all about chiaroscuro.

And shadows do not only introduce dimension. They also introduce mood, and in contrasty pictures like the one above, drama.

Give yourself an assignment: in your next picture, play with light and dark a bit, and use them to produce depth, character, and mood. Consider using black and white.

And in response to the B/W request:

0 thoughts on “Chiaroscuro

  1. Hi Michael,

    I love this effect. Was this image taken with just an overhead light above the table and a fast lens? Could you also create the same effect with a flash that is zoomed out or with a snoot attached?



  2. This was with a handheld second flash, bounced off a small bounce card if I recall correctly. And indeed, a snoot would have done just this. One reason I always have some of the Honl snoots and grids in my bag.

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