Awesome light when
Never be afraid to shoot inside!
So in the last lesson, we talked about getting great light when you’re outside, but what about when you’re inside? Often people can get pretty stressed out when shooting inside, especially if it is a paid job.
But stress no longer!
Below are three super simple ways to help you get creative and get awesome images while shooting indoors:
So let’s get started!
1. WINDOW LIGHT
Window light is everywhere! Whether in your home, a client’s home or at a studio, you can find light pouring in from a window almost anywhere. This easily available light that can be soft and beautiful makes window light an excellent source of light for photography. Check out some of the images below; all were shot in client’s homes.
I love using window light.
It allows me not to have to haul a bunch of gear into my clients home, but also has such a natural, soft look and feel to it. I love including the window in the image as well!
Shooting with window light is awesome, but there are some things you need to concerned about. Let me share those with my tips below.
Tips for Shooting with Window Light.
• North Facing Windows are Awesome.
Not all window light is created equally, so be aware of the direction the window is facing.
The North side never gets as much sun as the South side, or even East or West side. So try to find windows that face North. If you can, these windows will give you the best light you can get.
North facing windows have awesome light all day long. You can use East and West facing windows, but that has to be done when the sun is on the opposite side. For example, if you have an East facing window that you want to shoot by, shooting in the morning will yield terrible results as sun streams in. The East facing window works best in the afternoon or early evening.
A West facing window is the opposite of the East facing window. It delivers beautiful light in the morning and early afternoon hours. South facing windows may never produce great light for photography, you just have to watch and see.
Take the time to look around your home. If sunlight is coming directly in, then that window won’t work well for photography right then. Find a window where only soft, bounced light is coming in.
• Use a Reflector for the Shadow Side.
When shooting with window light, sometimes the shadow side can get too dark. To fix this, use a reflector on the opposite side of your subject. In the image below on the left, there is a white reflector directly to camera left. This bounces the light back to onto the shadow side of the face, softening the shadows and creating even better light.
Maybe a moody look is what you are after. In the image above on the right, there is a dark reflector to camera right, increasing the darkness of the shadows, and helping to create a more moody image.
Reflectors can be used to add or subtract light from your subject, so if you don’t have one, you need to get one soon! Check them out here.
• The Color of the Room Matters.
In rooms that are white, you tend to get very soft light all around your subject. Most of the images above were shot in white rooms. White or lighter toned rooms tend to give your images a bright, airy feel.
But what about dark rooms? Dark rooms absorb the light that comes in, rather than bouncing it around, which results in a darker, more moody feel.
If that is the type of room you are shooting in, then create images that mimic that feel.
• Turn off the lights.
Remember, light has color and if you leave the lights on you will get a yellow cast from the lightbulbs and a bluish cast from the window light. Turning off the lights, and only using window light will help you keep your images looking awesome.
2. BOUNCING A FLASH
I used to hate using a flash because it created such flat, hard lit, unflattering images. That was until I started bouncing it. It is amazing how soft your light can get when you simply point your flash at a wall, or the ceiling instead of at your subject. Beautiful soft light follows.
Un the images below, this reception was shot in winter, in a dark warehouse. Not ideal for lighting. My saving grace was that it had walls. I turned my flash and faced it towards a wall to camera right, and these are the images. Beautiful, soft light.
On this next two images, it can be tough when the reception is inside. But by simply bouncing my flash off the ceiling, I get soft, even light on the couple as well as soft light in the background.
It is a great way to get awesome lighting at a not-so-awesomely-lit reception location.
Tips for Bouncing a Flash.
Tips for Shooting with Bounced Light.
• The color of the surface you are bouncing off of matters.
Be careful, because light picks up color from the surface it is bouncing off. What this means, is if you are bouncing your light off a green wall, the lighting your subject will be green. Not awesome. If you are photographing people, make sure to bounce your light off a white or warm toned wall to keep skin tones where you want them to be.
• Increase the power of the light to get the same brightness.
When you are bouncing, the quality of light increases, but the quantity decreases. So make sure to increase the power on your light. This will help you get the brightness level that you desire from the light. You may need to bring extra batteries, but that’s a small price to pay for great light.
3. USE A SOFTBOX FOR GREAT LIGHT
Shooting with an off-camera light source can seem tricky, but it actually isn’t. Sometimes when you don’t have a wall to bounce the light off, or need a bit more control over where the light falls, a softbox is the answer. I use a mostly use a small portable soft box that slips right over my flashes and gives me surprisingly beautiful, soft light.
Below is the soft box set up that I use. The total cost for the flash, triggers, softbox, and a light stand is around $200. Not that much when you consider some flashes cost $500 by themselves!
Here is what I use:
Lightstand: Any light stand will do. Find one that reaches the height you want. Here is a great one for not a lot of money.
Umbrella Holder: On top of the light stand sits an umbrella holder. This holds the light and the soft box. Here is a great one.
Cold Shoe: Each umbrella holder comes with a cold shoe (a connector to hold the flash), but I like this one because it is much more secure. You don’t need this, but it is a great option for a more solid hold.
Softbox: I use the Westcott Apollo which is awesome. It folds up flat and small like an umbrella, but opens to a soft box. Wescott can be expensive, so if that one is too much for you, try this one for a third of the price.
Flash: This is where you can spend soooooo much money if you’re not careful. Again, I use Yongnuo flashes for this soft box for several reasons. First, they work great and are a fraction of the cost of Nikon or Canon flashes. Second, if the flash gets damaged by someone knocking the soft box over, the flash is fairly inexpensive to replace. For Nikon click here and for Canon click here.
Total cost of this entire setup? $300 with the Westcott soft box that I use, or $231 with the more inexpensive soft box. Seriously cheap for the ability to transform your images.
Tips for Shooting with a Softbox.
• Combine with window light to create awesome looks.
On the images below, I use window light as the main light, which is to camera left, and my soft box as a fill light from behind the bride, to camera right. Notice how it illuminates her shoulder and veil, adding dimension to the image.
Shooting like this gives the feel of a muli-light setup without all the work! This type of photography hack helps you to create awesome images without hauling so many lights and gear around.
• Use a reflector to brighten shadows on the shadow side.
On the image below of a judge, my soft box is to camera left while a reflector is next to him to camera right. This softens the shadow side of the face by bouncing light from the soft box back at him.
This is a great way to get soft, wrap around lighting really easily. Again, if you don’t have a reflector, what are you waiting for? They can change the look of your images so quickly and easily.
• Use outside to lift shadows slightly.
A soft box can even be used outside when you want to add a little light to the faces. Especially in dusk situations, like we learned about in the last section, adding a bit of light from a soft box can really help create beautiful portraits.
In this image, I wanted to capture the beauty of the mountains in the background while still having beautiful light on their faces.
If I would have not used a light, the mountains in the background would have gone too bright, losing the softness and color that existed at that time. If I would have used my flash, the light would have been flat and unflattering on the couple.
Are you excited to get out and shoot?
Whether shooting inside or out, you have the ability to create or find beautiful light. Check out my next page where the tips I’ve given are combined in one easy to find place! Click ‘Tips’ in the menu to check it out.