Wednesday, June 11, 2008

:ARTICLE: Get Your Light Right

I have another photography related article published over at WeScrap. It was part of the June newsletter, but you view other great WeScrap articles and tutorials here.

Get Your Light Right

You don’t need to have a studio full of professional lights to get great photos of your loved ones. Many of us simply don’t have the space or budget to set up an indoor photography studio at home. Does that mean we shouldn’t be able to get quality results without have to spend an arm and a leg for a professional? Absolutely not! Over the years, the great outdoors has become my favorite studio. Backdrops are in endless supply and all you need is a few good tips to get some great lighting.

#1 – Get natural: Natural light is actually the most flattering type of light for photos. So get outside and start shooting. Don’t be afraid of weather either. Foggy and rainy days can actually create great mood for more creative shots.

You can also take advantage of natural light indoors. Turn off the indoor lighting and position your subject near a large, bright window or set up a makeshift studio beside your open garage door. Position your subject so that the light hits them from the side and use a reflector opposite the window to bounce even more light onto your subject. The photo below was taken indoors with my daughter lying on the floor several feet to the right of our living room window. I left the sheers closed to soften the light hitting her face, essentially acting as a diffuser.

#2 – Get Shady: While natural light is ideal, direct light is not. Contrary to popular belief, sunny days are not always best for taking photos. Direct light can cast harsh shadows on faces and cause squinting which is never flattering. Cloudy days can actually be better for taking photos. If you can’t avoid a sunny day, look for open shade such as on the side of a tall building (like I did in the shot below) or a lush tree to get better results.

#3 – Get Golden: The hour after sunrise and before sunset are known as the Golden Hours to photographers. These are the absolute BEST times of the day to take photos as the light is generally very soft and warm as a result of the sun being so close to the horizon and therefore causes colors to be at their most vibrant.

#4 – Get Flashy (but not when you think): Flash indoors, no flash outdoors, right? Not necessarily. While using flash indoors is sometimes necessary in low light indoors situations, don’t flip up that flash out of habit. Open the curtains and let there be light. The colors will be more natural and warm. Then, when you can’t avoid direct sunlight outdoors, make sure that the subject’s back is to the sun to help avoid squinting and use your flash. It can actually help to fill in some of those nasty shadows.

Let me know what you think of this article on lighting...basic, I know, but that was the idea. Are there other basic lighting tips that you live by to help improve your natural light photography?

5 Books to Help You Enhance Your Skills:
1) Rick Sammon's Exploring the Light: Making the Very Best In-Camera Exposures
Professional Secrets of Natural Light Portrait Photography
Exposure and Lighting for Digital Photographers Only (For Only)
Night and Low-Light Photography: Professional Techniques from Experts for Artistic and Commercial Success
Lighting Photo Workshop
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