08.31.2013

Hudson Valley Portrait Photographer | Seeing the light

Carlise,

I miss your tutorials especially the ones where you are showing how to see an image. Do you have any plans to continue or post any new ones? The ones you posted have helped me a lot and I often refer back to them when I need.

Signed, Fan of your tutorials

Dear ‘Fan of my tutorials’, I am so incredibly honored that you enjoyed and found my previous tutorials helpful in your photography journey. Honestly, life and business has swept me away from tutorial posting for a bit. I also felt like no one was reading them so they weren’t high on my ‘to-do’ list. But since you asked (and responded with the type of tutorials that helped you the most), I am providing a quick new tutorial below (just for you)!

I am not sure if I had mentioned this in any previous tutorials but I started out as a studio photographer complete with lots of lighting, backdrops and props. I veered away briefly from studio to concentrate more on natural lighting as I was going through my education at New York Institute of Photography. And, my conclusion has always been that I am glad things worked out this way because in my current style I like my lighting to look ‘natural’ whether I am allowing outdoor/window light to light my subject or I am ‘creating’ natural/window light with my flash/strobes.

The key is really to know light, study light and all it’s sources, as well as, get to know shadows that are being creating by your ‘light’. Light is essential to photography because without it all of your pictures would be a total blackout!

I am going to post a few ‘similar’ photos and want you to ‘study’ them on your own then under the two I will write an explanation:

l1 l2

I think this set of photos is a pretty obvious comparison. The top was taken using a bounced flash aimed at the wall behind me and angled to the right to create some natural shadowing around the family. The image under it was taken using window light to the left and side and you can see how the side light position created a little more dramatic shadowing on my client’s faces.

 

l3 l4

Maybe these next two are not as obvious but here is how they were each lit. The top photo is 100% natural light. The client’s home had two windows with a wall separating both of them positioned at a 45 degree angle on both the left and right side of dad with his baby. The wall was allowing a creation of a slight shadow to the left of him while both windows splashed a healthy amount of light. Because of the windows position the light actually acted like two studio soft boxes and the affect created was a studio look.

The bottom image was 100% studio light. 1 large soft box was positioned close to dad and baby to the left at a 60 degree angle causing the light to have a similar window side light affect (as the family ‘window’ light photo above). Because the space was very small that 1 light was able to illuminate the entire room. Light position is everything when you are trying to create a light ‘mood’ and my choice to position the light this way was my need to ‘replicate’ window light.

 

l5 l7

Two different babies, born a year apart and lit two completely different ways. The top photo was taken entirely outside under a diffused sun. The time of day was around 3pm so the sun was still nice and high with a slight tilt as it was shining through overcast skies. Since the light source was very big and shining from above it created a flat, even lighting over my baby.

The bottom image was done entirely with an on-camera speedlight. Because I knew I wanted to create a soft, even lighting over my baby I aimed my speedlight toward the ceiling so the light splash would mimic a big, diffused sun in the sky. BTW, the bottom baby image was taken a year BEFORE the top image but because I knew how and what light creates I was able to shoot similar scenes in completely different lighting scenarios…so get to know your light and all light for your photography style!

 

 

l8

This next one I am going to enlist the help of Hudson Valley opera singer/teacher and yoga instructor, Jody Weatherstone. I feel it is my duty to explain a little more on natural versus studio light.

Natural light happens to be my favorite to photograph in. It is unpredictable, dramatic (at times) and has the ability to show off skin tones in a beautiful and pure way. The only downfall to natural light is that you are limited to the amount of control you have over it.

Studio light (aka artificial light/strobes/flash) is fully customizable and you have full control over every situation. You can use it outdoors, indoors and use it for lighting/shadowing effects. I enjoy studio lighting when I absolutely need to use it but most of my go-to lighting is natural.

The above images of Jody were created like this: The left photo is all natural light. Jody’s yoga studio is surrounded by windows so I decided to use this room to create a ‘studio-like’ portrait. Because there was so much light in the room I was able to illuminate her pretty evenly and position her so that she had a little ‘drama’ being caused with some highlights and diffused shadow.

The photo to the right is taken 100% flash. I positioned my flash at about a 60-90 degree angle to the right of her, however, I angled my light so that it would fire and splash light on the wall and ceiling behind it. I often angle my lighting where the ceiling and wall connect because it creates a bigger soft box splash for my portrait clients. The thing with artificial light is that it reflects and absorbs colors. Jody had just painted her music room a pale(ish) yellow color so the bounce of the flash created some yellowish undertones to the entire scene. I did not mind this color variation so I kept it but if I wanted to I could have gelled my flash with either a cool color (blue or magenta) to balance the warmth of the yellow (or change the balance in post but like I said I wasn’t bothered by the undertones).

Hope this all has helped you see the light a little differently. I cannot promise you another tutorial anytime soon but if you would like please contact me with any suggestions or anything that I can plan for for the future and I will be sure to help any way I can!!

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