Daily Archives May 22, 2019

Have you always wondered how images like the one below are lit?

Have you ever tried to get those beautiful distinct lines from venetian blinds?

Hi guys, and welcome to my guest blog.

Over the years I’ve taught many workshops, and one of the things that always strikes me is that a lot of people are very focused on lighting setups. Even when you look at books and videos, it’s almost always about lighting setups.

Don’t get me wrong, those are pretty awesome. But the problem with this train of thought is that although you can now copy something, you don’t really understand why it gives that look, or the theory behind it so to say. So for this blog post I thought it would be fun to just take one small part of the basis of lighting and give you guys a lot of options to build something for yourself.

Today we are going to look at shadow control, more so shadow transfers. So take out your popcorn, sit down…. Here we go.

The Bare Basics Are Cool

We all want to start with the cool stuff, I get it, we want shortcuts. The idea behind this goes for everything in life. But in essence, when you look at, let’s say, one year of progress, you will find out very quickly that shortcuts are not working. Let me explain.

When I was young (not that long ago… well okay), I loved playing guitar. In fact, I didn’t do anything else. My whole life was built around playing guitar.

To pay for my hobby, I started teaching local kids. At that point I think I was 18-19 years old. At that time there was a movement emerging called shredding (playing really fast), and although I did like it, I didn’t really play like that. As a huge Queen fan, I was more into the melodic stuff.

But during that period, bands like Dream Theater, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, etc. all became hugely successful, and especially Satriani and Vai caught my attention. Listen to Steve Vai’s album Passion And Warfare and you’ll know why it changed my (and many others’) lives when it came to playing the instrument. Both Vai and Satriani used very melodic solos, but in keys I didn’t recognize. There was a certain “feel” about them, almost singing and summer, or very dark and exotic, what the…?

Soon it became clear these guys were not playing the standard stuff, but were using so called modes. So, my students wanted to learn those modes. A lot of teachers started teaching them scales, intervals etc.

Long story short, there are seven modes that are used most commonly. Imagine having to learn all seven modes over the whole neck of the guitar and remembering them all in any key possible… Feeling dizzy? Yeah, well so did I. But this is what you HAD to learn. Until I started to study what was going on (remember in that time we did not have internet, you really had to figure everything out yourself)…

Seven modes… Seven keys in a scale….mmmm

Very soon it dawned on me that is was actually very simple. Learn the C major scale and just start on different notes to get the modes. Start on D for Dorian, start on E for Phrygian, etc. Now that mess of seven modes all over the neck became actually incredibly simple. Just learn ONE scale and remember on which note to start. I was literally in heaven and very quickly could play any mode almost blindly on the guitar. My progress was like a rocket.

However, my students were very very reluctant to learn the C major scale. They would rather spend 4-5 hours learning one small Dream Theater solo than understanding what he was playing and why. In 4-5 hours you can learn the C major scale over the entire neck and play something similar to your favorite solo and make it your own, but also “play” with it and create totally new stuff.

Ok so what has this to do with photography you might wonder, well everything.


When we talk to photographers and teachers, it’s almost always about the light. Not very often do you hear photographers talk about shadows, well, unless it’s something negative like, “How can I get rid of that shadow?” But, in essence, shadows tell you everything about the lighting.