Mitch Myers




connecting who you are, to what you do.

Thoughts on Personal Branding and why it’s too valuable to ignore.


The Great Day of His Wrath by John Martin

/reading light.

Believe me when i say there are endless skills you can obtain by studying those who make better shit than you. a "master" does not "master" his art form solo. He becomes a "master" by first "perfecting" the art of being an apprentice. (Notice the air quotes. I "hate" buzzwords 😂, but that's for another post.)


I should mention here that acting as or being an apprentice does not mean you need to find some old industry war vet to teach you the unknown secrets to making something meaningful. an apprentice remains open to growth at all times. so, In lieu of wasting that time, I began to study works of art that inspire me. Pieces that had an impact on me in some way. i knew there was something to learn there that i wasn’t initially aware of. in every piece of meaningful artwork there are decisions being made that impact the piece in its final form. why not reverse engineer these creations and find out what we can learn from them? I’m talking about Reading art (and for this particular post we will focus on) reading light.

Photographer, Motion Designer, Art Director, It doesn't matter; reading light is fun as hell and i’m positive you will learn something from it if you are not alreadY.


/just look at it.

What we are looking for are the different interactions light has with our world. do we have diffused and/or direct light in the scene and where? Do you see reflections, shadows, highlights, caustics, catchlights, etc. and how do they correspond with the light types you see? If you are not aware of some of these terms that’s totally fine! we are going to start off easy. Let’s begin by breaking down the image below!

/Something Simple First.

let’s start with a simple scene! To the right we see a still of a piece developed by GS&P For Pepsi. This particular scene looks like it was lit using an HDRI image, but we are going to “re-create” this as if we were going to use traditional lighting.

First, lets look over our scene. We have a cg “Soda Orb” floating in a curved backdrop (Highlighted in Yellow) Now, notice the reflections on the “soda orb” (highlighted in RED). We see two rectangles, one much vertically longer than the other. From the looks of it, we have two windows in a room and one window with the blinds 3/4th’s shut. From the reflection we can tell that our light source is coming from the upper right hand side of our stage which creates the long shadow spilling from right to left on our stage from the orb (highlighted in blue).


What we have so far in our equation are the basics. We have reflection source, light direction, and stage setup. however, To fully develop the entire formula we need to dive a little deeper to find out our light intensity and distance. To do that, let’s look at our shadows. You might first wonder why we don’t just look at our reflections to see our light intensity. The issue with that method is that the reflection intensity can also change according to the subject’s (in this case our “soda orb”) specular intensity, which can change depending on what materials you are dealing with. So, what do you see our shadows doing? We see that the direction of our subjects shadow trails off to the left of the scene but it also has a really soft feather or diffusion along what would be the edges of our shadow. But what causes the sharpness or softness of shadows? The distance and sizes of our light sources! For example, on a sunny day, you will likely see sharp, deeper shadows on the ground being cast from objects because of the brightness of our sun and the distance from the light source to our objects creating the shadows. But, when looking at objects outside during a cloudy day, the light from the sun is being diffused by the clouds, which now allows the clouds to be our main light source. The equation is then reset and now we have a large light source closer to our objects creating softer shadows. Since we see softer shadows on our stage and with the information we see in our reflections, we can safely say that our light sources are diffused, and relatively close to the “soda orb”. So let’s recap. We have 1. A curved stage 2. A large size light source relative to our object. 3. another large light source (about 3/4th the size of the main light source) to the left. That’s about it! So, let’s re-create this thing!


Here you can see a diagram of the light setup (if they didn’t use an hdri) We have the two lights to the right of our object and a curved stage to catch any shadows, caustics, reflections, etc. The lights would be tall/vertical softboxes and act as our windows and main light sources. We also need to place the shorter softbox opposite of what we INITIALLY see in the reflections (reflected light is mirrored). Optionally, you can add a reflector to the left which could be a good option if you want to boost the “amberness” of the liquid in the sphere. Be careful to choose the right color of reflector though! A nice gold color should work fine, however, you may need to do some finessing to get your reflections to hit where they need. Just an option! Like i Said, easy.

/it takes time.

If you don’t fully understand or even feel apprehensive to use the technique on your own, no worries! the more you practice the more you develop an eye for recognizing the different interactions light has with our world and the subjects within it. take some of your favorite artwork or photography and try it yourself! In the next part of making light your bitch (🤣this title is so dumb😂) we will go over reading light with a more difficult image! I Can’t wait!


✌️ Mitch