Maximizing light with Lito Sy

February 10th, 2011

Camera Club of Davao recently organized a workshop by Lito Sy in Gap Farm last Feb 5, 2010 where more than twenty photographers, including myself, were invited to attend.  In this workshop, we were taught of the basic behavior and characteristics of light and how to control it in when doing a portraiture.

What’s the difference between a fashion shoot and portraiture? According to Lito Sy, Fashion uses hard light while portraiture uses soft light. Classic poses are recommended in the latter while fashion make use of poses that is not necessarily what you would call natural.

Light, he shared, is what makes our photography.  Our photos are captured light.

Your Light meter is your window to understanding how much light reaches your camera.  The number represents full stop, and the dots are half stops.  Ideally you would want the meter to be in the middle, it means it is either underexposed or overexposed.  But there are also times when you have to go over one or under one.  In portraiture, when your subject is pale skinned, you have to go over one, and under one if the subject has a darker skin tone.  There are also times when the meter is confused and you have to deliberately go over or underexpose.

Liz Masoner gives us an example of times to do that.

Examples of times to overexpose

  • Subject is very dark in comparison to background
  • Snow
  • On a bright day if your subject is in shadow

Examples of times to underexpose

  • Subject is very light in comparison to background
  • To achieve a silhouette effect
  • On a overcast day to increase color saturation

Lito Sy also shared with us the proper way to diffuse a light so it crawls on the skin gradually.  Photographers were taught to take portraiture outdoors regardless of the time of the day.  Our shoot was done around one pm and true enough, he was able to reduce the harshness of the afternoon light and play it according to his advantage, showing us that our source of light, the sun, is enough to provide for our photography needs (for this scenario).  Proper redirection and correct diffusion is the only technique needed to control it.

Lito Sy also taught that you never take bad photos of your clients.  “Image is everything in the image business”.  You are hired what normal camera holders cannot do, and that is to catch your client’s best angle.  Sometimes, it’s about creating a setting to get it, sometimes it’s all about opportunities in candid moments, other times, it’s about light play, but most of the time, it’s about how you make them respond to you.

Workshop Photos


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  3. hope you can share us some techniques taught to you by sir Lito sy Like how to play with light :D hope you can read my comment :D

    • hi leo. will post on light techniques to address this :) thanks for visiting my blog.

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