Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Go Natural Light: It's Cheap...but Good

Go Natural Light: It's Cheap...but Good

Do you want good results without having to spend a lot of money? Go all natural light - it's cheap... but good!

I own regular Nikon flashes as well as Norman monolight studio flashes, but what I have found out is that I don't need any of those to get great lighting on my subjects. There are two main reasons why I do not use studio flashes regularly: I am lazy and I do not have a mobile power source.

So where do we start? First we need to understand that there are different types of lighting. There are two types that I am interested in: harsh and soft lighting.

*Harsh lighting is concentrated as opposed to an even, spread soft lighting. Harsh lighting occurs towards the noon hour when the sun is directly overhead and soft lighting occurs more towards the early morning and late afternoon as well as cloudy, overcast days.

You want to try to avoid mixed lighting - the kind of dappled lighting you get from being under a tree because the leaves allow some light to enter and some light not. The best place to find even light when it's not early or late or an overcast day is to go to a place where there is soft shade. When I say "soft shade", I mean to say shade that is not dense. You can find such places where a building casts a shadow, but not the kind of darkness found in a closet. For the most part, you will need to search out the places and they will change through out the day, so pay attention.

For the photo to the right (for people whose screen does not have the images set to the side, the girl with the firefighter suit), there was an overhanging that provided some soft light/shade that was perfect and the light coming into the area acted as a main light (the main source of light). The light coming into the shaded area helps to give her a sort of glow.

In order to find this, I had to search the area that had this kind of lighting. If you wanted to have great locations, you will almost always have to search them out. Sometimes they are in obvious spots and other times, you'll really have to search hard. Thus in a wrap: You will have to scout locations, but you'll get better shots!

Do you want those big, beautiful eyes to really shine?

The best well to show off someone's eyes is to place them in front of window and their eyes will just light up with amazing catch lights - works every time! The light from a window, and depending of the window, tends to give punchy lighting. Perhaps the something like you can get from a silver reflector or a costly soft box. The larger the window the better because a large light source will wrap around the subject producing soft lighting; thus larger windows are better for fuller length shots. By the same reasoning, an on board flash included on most cameras is too small for much off anything and its catch light is akin to small dot of light.

In a wrap: you need to search for quality light. Sometimes it will be easy to find and other times, you'll really have to search for it, but thus is the life of a photographer.

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