Photography – Lighting

Everyone thinks if you have the most expensive and fancy camera in the world, you’re going to end up taking pictures that are ready for Vogue magazine. The truth is and most people just won’t admit this, without proper lighting your photos could turn into pure disasters quicker than Custer’s last stand. What follows are some tips on lighting that, even if you don’t have the most expensive camera in the world, will give you the best possible photos for the equipment that you do have.

For starters, you need to know the difference between indoor and outdoor lighting. It isn’t just that one is indoors and one is outdoors. Sunlight, which is natural light and lamp light, which is man made light are quite different and will give you a different look to your photos.

If you’re taking photos in sunlight, for one thing, you’re not going to need a flash. Even on an overcast day the light from the sun is still stronger than anything you’re going to be able to hook up in a studio or home, unless you’ve got some serious heavy duty lighting that is sure to set you back a pretty penny. For photos in sunlight, you’re not going to need a flash at all. However, when taking photos in the sunlight you want to make sure that your back is to the sun, otherwise the glare that you’re going to get off the lens is going to destroy your photos. If you’re photographing a moving subject, like a model, this is always within your control. But what do you do if the subject you want to photograph, say a house, is right in the line of fire with the sun directly in back of it? Simple. There are filters that you can buy for your camera that will filter enough of the sun out so that your photos don’t look like one big sun spot. If you can’t afford a filter, or you have a camera that can’t be used with one, another technique that will work just fine is to shoot the object from an angle instead of head on.

What about lighting for indoor photos? Well, this is critical and unfortunately your photos indoors are only going to be as good as the lighting itself. With poor lighting your photos will turn out grainy, even with a high resolution digital camera and the colors will be washed out to the point where your photos almost look like they were taken in black and white.

So how much lighting is enough? It depends on how strong the lighting is and how close to it your subject is. You can get very good photos from a 100 watt simple living room lamp if your subject is standing right under it, sure. But sometimes this isn’t practical. The fact is, your common ordinary house lights, even 150 watt, are not going to be strong enough to get good photos. Professional lighting will be needed. This is going to require you to shell out a few bucks, but it will be worth it. Also, as with photographing a subject outdoors, you want to make sure the light is shining on your subject from either the sides of the subject of from in front of the subject, which would require the lighting to be set up behind the photographer. Never have the lighting set up behind the subject, especially if it is very strong lighting. The glare will turn your photo into an indistinguishable mess.

Of course lighting is much more complicated than this if you want to be a professional photographer, but this should at least give you the basics so that you can take some decent photos without having to get a major education in photography.