It’s that time! Time for a new dose of inspiration from the lovely Carrie Butler. When Carrie told me about what she was writing for this tutorial I could hardly wait to publish. She has a little trick that will change how I set up a shot from this day on. Do you have your camera ready? Alright then, let’s get on with our second Shoot-Along tutorial. Carrie, we’re all yours.
Light is everything. If you can nail light, you are in great shape and your photos are going to take on a whole new quality. I am talking, blow-all-your- facebook–friends-away-with–your-mad–photo-skills new quality. I like to use natural light whenever I can because I think it looks, well, more natural… The key is learning how to see the best light.
I am going to start right away by giving you an assignment. Hold your hand up, palm facing you, about two feet away from your eyes. Walk towards any window/lightsource in your house. Turn your palm from one side to the other and pay attention to where and when it appears to be the brightest. Now run outside, (this exercise works best in the late afternoon/evening or early morning) find some shade, start as close to whatever is casting the shade as possible, hold up your palm again, and walk towards the outer edge of the shade. Do you notice that your palm gets subtly brighter and brighter the further you get? At the very edge of that shade, the place where your palm is the brightest, that is where you should be shooting.
Grab a kid, pet, doll, spouse, put him/her where your palm was the brightest, and turn them this way and that so you can see which angle makes their eyes the shiniest, and then start shooting. Here are a couple of samples that I took yesterday.
The first one is of my daughter at the zoo near the monkey house. She is right up against the building, we are under some type of roof, so we are in the deepest part of the shade. Her face is pretty evenly lit but there is no light reflecting in her eyes at all.
This next picture is my daughter’s friend who stepped in as a double because my daughter was much too busy being contrary to take a second picture. We stepped about ten feet directly forward, I didn’t change anything on my camera at all. It is the same shutter speed, the same ISO, and the same aperture. We are still in the shade, but at the very edge of it.
These next photos I took right outside my house at about ten this morning. My sweet neighbor came over to help me out because she holds still so much better then my wiggly children.
In the first photo she is at the very edge of the shade, with her back to the lit part of my backyard. I shot it on the auto mode with my camera. Notice that she is pretty dark while the background is kind of blown out?
This next photo I took in the same exact spot, I just turned her around till her face looked the brightest and shot again, in auto mode.
I could have used flash for the first picture or adjusted my shutter speed or aperture to get a better exposed photo, but we will talk aout that in a different tutorial.
One thing that is important to note, there are natural reflectors in our environment that can be used to enhance our photos. For example, this morning when I set out to get a few shots for this tutorial, I was on the side of my house and I couldn’t figure out why the part of the shade that should have been the darkest was making her eyes light up and sparkle. Turns out there is a giant white fence that the sun was bouncing off of right where we were standing.
This photo was taken with my camera phone, and still, you can see catch lights in her eyes! And the light on her face is actually pretty even, although it is a little pink.
So your homework to go along with this lesson is to start paying attention to the light around you. Here are some tips:
- Look at your hands and pay attention to the way your skin changes in color and brightness as you walk around. Do it everywhere you go. (yes, people will look at you funny, its ok! Tell them about the Shoot Along and invite them to sign up!)
- Look for natural light reflectors; try to determine where the light is coming from. Do you live near a beach? Awesome, go down and check out how the light reflects off the sand, the sky, the water, the clouds!
- Look at your subjects eyes, can you see catch lights? What light, if any, are they reflecting?
- Take several pictures, repositioning your model every which way and go through them and review. Where does their skin look the brightest?
Also, this is in no way the only way to shoot, there are tons and tons of really cool things you can do, so there will certainly be more parts to the lighting tutorials. For now, this is an easy way to make your photos a little better, no matter what kind of camera you are using! Good luck and I can’t wait to see what you get!!
p.s. Carrie managed to get this tutorial together just after zipping home to Utah from a San Fran shoot. So an extra big thank you from all of us!!