Please look at the picture full size.
For me good lighting for black and white photography comes from either the back or the side to create strong shadows. Shadows need light to come in to existence.
Kodak instructed film photographers to have the sun coming over their shoulder. This frontal lighting was a clever way of reducing contrast and shadows that the film was may be not capable of recording.
In the days of film we exposed for the shadows and developed for the highlights. Digitally we should be exposing for the highlights and processing for the shadows. As a very minimum you should be setting the white and black points with the Histagram.
To quote John Ruskin an English C19th Painter and Critic who said “think in shadows”. My other favourite quote to do with shadows is by John Blakemore the English Photographer and Teacher who said “living dark , not dead black”. Strong shadows add strength to a picture.
To me the style of the shadows in a picture needs to meet and agree with the overall look intended. Over the past years I have become famous for very dark prints with shadow detail as in my signature picture held by the Royal Photographic Society Permanent Collection.
I am now moving towards more graphic style with shadows that do not contain any texture or detail with the aim to emphasize shape. My main influences in this respect are Bill Brandt, Michael Kenna and Joseph Hoflehner.
This picture called “The Skater” was taken out of my kitchen window on a January morning in 2007 with the low light coming from the south-east. I liked the effect the lighting makes on the luminescent rollers on the boots and the shadows cast by the legs.
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(c) Andy Beel FRPS