Monday, December 3, 2007

Taking advantage of all available light.

Photography is about light. And there is great light all around.

For most of his career National Geographic photographer Sam Abell (look him up) never used a flash. He used the existing light in creative and unique ways. He really saw light.

Whenever possible I try to work creatively with existing light. Here's a recent portrait I did of my niece Jodi.

(She's doing her best impression of a scary zombie in her Grandpa's attic!) Anyway, what you'll notice is two different light sources. One slightly behind her on her right (my left) and one almost directly in front of her.

The light behind her is overcast daylight from a garret window and it acts as a sort of hairlight, creates a nice hi-light and helps separate her from the background. The light in front of her is from a window as well but there is a big tree with yellow leaves out this window and they act as a reflector, casting that nice warm glow on her face. I also positioned her in such a way that the window acts as a catchlight in her eyes (portraits without a catchlight tend to look lifeless). Lastly, she is turned ever so slightly so there is a little shadow on her face, this adds depth.

Of course, this exact look could be reproduce with several strobes and some gels in a studio, but lighting opportunities not dissimilar to this are all around. Just gotta look for them!

Give it a go.

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