Using Light To Take Great Photos

Using Light To Take Great Photos

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Have you ever wondered why a professional photographer’s pictures look better than your snapshots? Sure they’ve got the fancy cameras and the great software, but what about the nuts and bolts of shooting a great picture? Do they know something you don’t?

The answer is yes. They know about lighting. Lighting can be the key to what ends up being a great photo, or it can be what ruined a potentially great photo.

Professional photographers spend a lot of time studying and learning about light but they’ll be the first to tell you how simple good lighting really is. Good lighting is simply light from a large light source from somewhere other than the camera.

That’s why you see photographers using those big umbrella lights in their studios. A photographer wants lots of light from lots of sources and not only directly in front of the subject.

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A larger light source is a softer, flattering light source. Good light can make adults look younger and children look happier. Good light can make your whole photograph stand out.

You can’t get that kind of light from a typical digital camera. Most pockets sized point-and-shoot style cameras have a very small flash. It’s also attached to the camera and creates what the professionals call cave dweller lighting. The pictures look as though they were taken in a cave with a flashlight taped to your head.

So what’s the answer for someone who doesn’t have fancy lighting equipment?

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Here are some suggestions:

  • Put your subject near a window or open door.
  • Get outside and if there is sun put it behind your subject.

We’ve all been taught this is wrong but it’s wonderful light because the sun creates secondary backlighting. If you have a shaded area put your subject right on the edge of the shade so that the bright part of the skylights them without the harsh effects of the sun. The sun’s reflection off of a building can also add some incredible light.

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One of the great aspects of using digital cameras is that you can try lots of things and take lots of pictures without having to worry about wasting film. Try different lighting sources and try using natural light in different ways. Photograph literally means writing with light. Light is the main element the professionals use to create quality pictures.

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