Lighting - part 2

Hello Charlie Photo Mama Workshop


The biggest tip I have for you is IF possible shoot in the shade while learning your settings (it will be less frustrating) and I like to shoot right on the edge of shade so not too dark. You don't get squinty eyes, you get good shadows not harsh lines, you get even lighting...its all around better. When I take my clients on shoots I search for an area of good shade always unless I am shooting in golden hour which I will discuss tomorrow. Again this is something you can't always control so if you are in the sun, try to get your kids at a 90 degree from the sun, not behind them or in front of them. And the best times outdoors are when the sun is coming up and going down which I'm sure you have heard. This is because of the way lighting works, you don't want it directly overhead and creating hard shadows and little to no shade everywhere.

Now as we know, we can't always have perfect conditions and our kids are going to be in situations without ideal lighting, but you guys have learned a lot about your settings and even though you are still trying to understand the relationship between all three you will eventually know what to do in each situation. Remember outside and sunny you are going to want a really low ISO, to let less light’s all the opposite of being inside because now you have a problem of too much light in your camera instead of adjusting to get more light in. You do want a low aperture (low number means wider and lets more light in) though to get those blurry backgrounds and then your shutter speed will depend on if your subject is moving or no.

When I am outside I set my aperture at what I want. I generally always use between 3 and 5. (I use 1 or 2 when I am going for a really blurry look in the background) Then I adjust my shutter speed. In this photo of Caleb its bright and sunny so I want a FAST shutter speed which is a small fraction so my shutter moves quick and lets less light in. Then my ISO can be at 100 or 200 letting as little light in as possible as well.

Hello Charlie Photo Mama Workshop


I like to use this example to help you guys a little bit with where I am at in relation to light sources (indoors) to get a good photo. Ideally your subject is facing the window..when I do my professional shoots I try to have them at a 45 degree angle ideally...not always realistic but that is ideal!

First photo: Charlie is in the middle of living room with main natural light source being behind her. I am on my stomach in front of her. There IS a light source behind us but not close enough to provide enough light (front door). I fired off this shot and when I looked at it on my camera I realized I didn't have enough light on her. These backlit photos are very tricky. Settings were 1/200, 3.2 and ISO 640. I started out with a higher ISO than I normally would because I knew she was facing this way but I still needed more light.

2nd photo: She then noticed I was taking her photo and came towards me trying to grab my camera to "see it". I backed up and she sat down in the hall way which is closer to that front door light. With the exact same settings I then took another photo and it came out like this. Notice she is more lit up, she has catchlights in her eyes because she now has lighting shining on her. I got lucky to have the light behind her as well making that nice glow on her hair.

3rd photo: My husband took this so you guys can get a rough idea of where I am. Also I haven't given my kid tips yet but I am almost always either laying on the ground or sitting on my bottom. Being at their level is really important and makes them feel more comfortable as well.

Hello Charlie Photo Mama Workshop


Ok, backlit photos are something that are pretty tricky in photography. I keep telling you guys to have your subjects face the window or be at an angle towards the window right? That is the ideal situation and you will get the results you are looking for. But sometimes that is just not possible with where your child is in relation to the light. This is something that the auto settings on your camera will definitely fail at and why you should be in manual. Most often your subject will be dark or a silhouette because your camera doesn't know what to focus on. Have you guys had this problem with your iPhones as well? You can tap on your subject and your exposure will adjust on your phone so your subject is lit up...well with your digital cameras you have to manually change your settings to accomplish this. So what I do is lower my ISO actually before I try to it is at 250 (so by doing this I'm letting less light into my camera). I then went as low as I could on my shutter but she was moving so I kept it at 1/125 so she wouldn't get blurry. Then I had my aperture on 3.2. I have the SAME settings when I was about 10 feet away as I was when I got really close to her and focused on her eyes in the second photo. Notice when I am close to her, her eyes are in focus and her hands. When I back up her whole body is in focus. So that can show you the difference of aperture a little better depending on how close you are to your subject. Here is a good post from another photographer on backlit photos outdoors.



Lowlight photos

Photos in "bad" light are something I still struggle with. I still do some experimenting and do test shots before I start shooting my subject. Flash is sometimes a solution but sometimes you don't want to use a might not want to disturb your subject (sleeping baby), you don't want to ruin the mood of the setting (birthday candles), etc. I took these photos at night with no flash. How it works is you need a fast lens with an aperture that can go pretty low. I have my aperture on 2.2 here, also a slow shutter speed. MOST of you have lenses that can go to around 4.0 and that will still work you just will have to have a higher ISO than me. Remember both of these let MORE light in. My shutter is at 1/50 (they aren't moving much at all so this is as slow as I would go in this case. And then my ISO is at 800 because those other two were letting so much light in. You will get some grain but you might like the photo better than if you used a flash depending the situation.

The top photo is probably similar to what some of you are getting when you say your photos have a yellow tint or are too "warm". My house is FULL of warm tones and it kind of drives me crazy. I would probably edit it some myself to put some cooler tones in to even it out but overall I think its ok. This is on Auto White Balance (AWB). So my camera is adjusting the color balance and temperature and getting an average. (like your camera on auto). 

There are settings you can change in your white balance menu (see chart in 2nd photo and check your manuals on how to get to this menu). What the heck is white balance?! White balance in digital photography means adjusting colors so that the image looks more natural (true to actual color). If you play around with these if your photos are too yellow or too blue you can change the coloring. It depends on what setting you are in and what kind of light is causing the color hues. I honestly don't use these because I do editing in Photoshop (which I personally think is easier), but I tried the Tungsten which is supposed to compensate for for that yellow light, and I tried florescent which was supposed to do the opposite but I kind of liked how that one looked (bottom photo).

It is all about preference but it’s something you can play with in your not so ideal lighting situations. If you do use flash try bouncing it up at the ceiling and not directly on their face, if you have an external flash (also called a speed light). Using a flash will create harsh shadows and you won't get the look you are all wanting. I also have a diffuser on my flash (white looking cap thing) if I ever use it to soften it even more. I never ever ever point my flash at the subject :)

Emily ButterworthComment