Often times when we begin to study photography, we get really stumped as to where the hell to place the light.

As artists, we have all sorts of choices, and these choices determine the style and feeling of the photograph.  A light in front will give a flat, uninteresting picture.  A light below will make a subject look goolish, where as a light 90 degrees to a subject will create intense drama.

A good trick to start understanding where to place your light is to start to train your eye to figure out where others are placing theirs.

In the photo above, we hung a soft box directly above and slightly behind the subject.  This caused the face of the person to become a bit darker while still illuminating his hands (where I wanted the attention to be drawn.)  This photo is less about the engineer, and more about the process hence the darker face.  Also, having the darkness around all four edges of the photo pulls your eye into the center of the frame without allowing it to stray outside.  You can also see a bit of a Dutch angle (as I talked about in a previous post.)

In order to dicern where the light is placed in photos, start looking for the shadows.  You can see a shadow under the green thingy at the bottom left of the frame.  From this, we can tell that the light is above and a bit to the right.