Monday, April 25, 2011

Glowing Air: Volumetric Lighting


One of my favorite lighting effects is volumetric lighting.  Normally, we see light only when it hits a solid surface or some liquids.  We usually don't see it in the atmosphere itself.  But when there's smoke, dust, fog, steam, water droplets, or other small particles in the air, light becomes visible.  This is the underlying principle for crepuscular rays (sunbeams).  It's also an effect often used by one of my absolute favorite photographers, Rarindra Prakarsa, and to me it looks pretty darn cool.

I met up with some fellow strobists from my local photography club over the weekend and practiced some strobist setup shots at a local park.  There was this spot where steam was coming out from some vents.  We used it as an opportunity to take some shots, and I liked the results.


Anyway, here are a few more examples of volumetric lighting:

Got some more samples of volumetric lighting?  Pls. share them in the comments!  [ Readers from New York and the UK, I'm looking at you! :) ]


  1. Very nice post and pictures Mic, never thought about this before, but it creates new possibilities for cool photos.

    Lighting info says SB-800 on camera as commander and SB-600 in a shoot through umbrella, so I would assume the steam was lit by both the sun and the umbrella? And the SB-800 output was disabled, right?

    I can see you wearing a red shirt and a jeans in the first picture. :-)

  2. Thanks buddy. Youre right except that the steam was lit by the sun. The soot thru was only for the face.

    Youre right about my shirt. I desaturated colors in the background but left the red and green in the glasses as a little accent. :)

    Best regards,


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