Saturday, 8 December 2012

And then there was (Natural) Light

Good news – you don’t need expensive lighting equipment to get well-lit shots, as long as you’ve got a window, that is…

If you’ve already bought your new home studio and blown most of your funds for the next couple of months, don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll find plenty of ways to put it to good use and it will eventually end up paying for itself. If you don’t have the funds in the first place, however, there is an easy solution.

Another piece of obvious advice, I’m afraid, but shooting next to a window for close ups and still-lifes can often have similar effects to using professional lighting equipment. The best part is that it’s the perfect way to keep taking photos on a grey day, since the cloud covering acts as a diffuser and stops the image from looking washed out and unprofessional.

You will need a tripod, unless you have a camera that works particularly well at high ISOs, but this is a purchase that I’d recommend to any photographer, as would pretty much any other photographer I know. If you plan on taking a lot of tabletop photos (still-life, isolated objects, etc.), I would also recommend looking into getting a Gorillapod – while it may be a little fiddly at times, you can bend the legs to allow you to get as close you like to your subject, which I’ve found makes composing your images a lot easier and actually achieves a good depth-of-field. Alternatively, using a standard tripod and a zoom lens also works perfectly well.

As mentioned before, a clear day brings with it harsh sunlight and can result in over-exposed highlights in your images, a great way to irritate reviewers. To remedy this, simply sticking up paper over the window can help to diffuse the light and lets you achieve a more balanced exposure (there are plenty of guides to doing this online, despite it being quite self-explanatory – I guess there must be some optimum paper thickness or something like that).

This said, it is sometimes better to slightly over-expose when shooting. Buyers are always looking for an eye-catching image and it makes sense that they’ll notice a brighter image rather than a dark one. Evidence for this can be found in my portfolio, where the brighter images have vastly outsold the darker ones.

So before you let your inner equipment geek take over (very tempting, I know), give this a go, you should hopefully see some positive results.

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