Sunday, July 5, 2009

Photography Phriday...only a few days late

The past few days have been wonderfully relaxing, but today's good ole' Sunday afternoon nap has prevented me from being even remotely sleepy at this late hour...sooooo, I decided to write this post I meant to do a few days ago...

Light: one of the biggest keys (if not the biggest) to taking good pictures. Having the right kind of light for your shot really does make the picture. I have read quite a few books on learning about how to take photos in different kinds of light from different directions and whatnot, but like everything else with photography, it is best learned by actually doing it...taking multiple shots and learning from the mistakes and successes in your own pictures. That being said, here are a few things about "light" that I have learned along the way.

First off, I shoot using available light...meaning, I do not use a flash (except on Christmas morning, etc). That being said, there are many photographers who use different forms of light sources for their photography, and they make it look great! But, I have not been able to dive into learning about external flashes and so forth, so I work with what I know and enjoy most right now: natural light. Natural light is light coming from the sun...via a window, door, outside, etc. Available light is light coming from any source you have at the time (a lamp, overhead light, or natural light). The only problem with available light is that some light sources (flourescent lighting, lamps, etc) can give an undesirable color-tint to your photographs. Due to this, I try to seek out natural light everywhere I shoot...

(indoors, light coming from window to my left: 85mm lens, 200 iso, 2.8f, 1/125 ss)
Let's start indoors...when you are taking pictures inside, make sure you open the blinds to let in as much light as possible. I usually open my blinds and then pull them away so that light can come through the whole window. When I am doing photo shoots at other's houses, I have been known to even open doors to let in as much light as I can and shoot near the light source. But if you are merely getting snapshots, opening the blinds to windows surrounding you is usually just fine.

(Light coming from window to my left: 85mm lens, 320 iso, 2.8f, 1/200 ss)
Outside is a different story with finding the best light. Many will tell you to only shoot in the early morning or evening...these are by far the best times to shoot due to the softer light coming from the sun. I normally try to schedule outdoor sessions in the evening for this is just easier to shoot in this light. But, you also need to know what you can do to make your pictures better outdoors if you are shooting in the middle of the day when the sun is blaring down from directly overhead. The sun is your friend, but sometimes it can really mess up a picture.

(sun nearly overhead at 11:00am...notice harsh shadows and intense bright spots: 50mm lens, 100 iso, 2.8f, 1/2000 ss)
Instead of shooting with the sun beating down on one side of your subject's face, try finding some shade. A building, a tree, a fence...all of these should offer at least enough shade to tuck your subject in and get a lot better picture because of it. Cloudy days are also a friend to blocks the harsh rays of the sun, but it gives enough light for a softer look. I LOVE shooting after rain showers because the colors are always so vibrant and the lighting is usually amazing (assuming the sky is still cloudy).

(same time of day as above, but 10 feet away in a tree-shaded area: 50mm lens, 100 iso, 2.8f, 1/400 ss)
Where you position yourself in relation to the light also makes a huge difference in a shot. You want to always have open sky at your back...meaning, your subject is looking in the direction of open sky. If your subject is looking at a forest or a tall building (meaning that these will be at your back), the light will look "flat" and undesirable. You will need to reposition your subject to where they are facing open sky (can be cloudy) to have better light on them.

(on our porch with the front door of our house at my back...notice the flat/unappealing look to this picture: 50mm lens, 100 iso, 2.8f, 1/500 ss)

(Exact same shot as above, but Abby turned 180 degrees...she is still on the porch, but the open sky is now at my back. Notice the better "feel" to this picture in regards of light...also notice the great catchlights in her eyes (the light reflecting in her eyes...attention-getters in a photograph): 50mm lens, 100 iso, 2.8f, 1/640 ss)
Backlighting...this light can have a beautiful effect on a subject, especially for profiles and action shots. I like backlighting (meaning the light is coming from behind the subject) in the evening or early morning shots (I do this a lot when we are at the beach). This is a skill that I am still trying to experiment with and learn. It gives a nice "glowing" effect to the subject.

(Taken in the evening with the setting sun peeking out just over the roof of our house and onto Emma (that's our opened garage in the background): 100mm lens, 200 iso, 2.8f, 1/400 ss)
Like I mentioned earlier though...shooting is just easier in the morning or evening times (but make sure you bring the mosquito spray). The light is soft and equal. You can use these times to concentrate on getting fun shots and working on other techniques (aperture changes, funny angles, other experimentation shots) rather than worrying so much on where to get the best light and how to achieve what you are wanting to do in the light you have.

(Taken in the evening with the sun now completely behind the house/trees...notice soft and even light throughout entire picture: 100mm lens, 100 iso, 2.8f, 1/160 ss)
But like always, if you are out shooting on these hot summer days, please do remember to wear sunscreen!

(Yes, we are a bit redneck around here...but you have to admit that a baby's toosh is just the cutest thing ever! 100mm lens, 200 iso, 2.8f, 1/125 ss)


Anonymous said...

Amber, I am so glad that you are teaching us these lessons. Tony and I just bought a new camera this week. I know that there is no way I will be an "Amber" but I just want to know how to get usable photographs. Thanks so much. Love, Amanda McCook

Toni on July 6, 2009 at 7:16 PM said...

Great post Amber! Thank you so much!! Love the baby booty ;) especially those tiny little butt roles!!

Dana on July 6, 2009 at 9:33 PM said...

Gotta love 2.8 and the 85mm!!!!

Anonymous said...

Well that is the cutest set of tighty-whiteys I have ever laid eyes on!

Sis. Kimberly Riffel

~sydney~ on July 7, 2009 at 2:02 PM said...

The last picture is PRECIOUS! Cute little tanned backside and white booty! :)

Michelle Garvin said...

LOVE the cutey-booty!! Save that one for the dating years :)

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