I tend to receive a fair amount of questions about photography techniques and such. One common question asked is – “how can I make my picture look less like a snapshot?”
Well in the last blog I shared about composition and the rule of thirds. This time I will talk about lighting, more specifically natural lighting.
A common misconception is that a beautiful sunny day is a great day for photos. In many cases that is simply not true. Bright sunlight creates harsh shadows and washout. If you are looking to use such elements on purpose then sunny is good. In most cases overcast or party cloudy is much better.
In the following photo – “Runt” there is a direct light challenge. To better handle the harsh shadows and bright light, I had to position myself in a way to place the shadow where I wanted them in the photo.
You can see there is a shadow on the little fella’s left side but it is actually lightened by the reflection on his body. This angle worked out well for such challenging lighting conditions.
In the photo – “Small Pond” you can see the sky is rather cloudy but the sun popped out between the clouds. For this shot I had to expose for the brighter area. At the time I did not own a Split Neutral Density Filter, so I had to take several shots at different exposure to come up with the best overall exposure.
In this next shot – “All By Myself” the subject was actually backlit, meaning the light was on the back side of the subject. To fix this I used my on camera flash as a fill-flash. I added just enough light to brighten the subject and still have a well lit background.
In this one - “U Looka Dis Way…” the sun was really bright and harsh. I had to again arrange myself so the harsh shadows were in a place appealing to the shot.
Finally in the shot – “Do You Hear A High Squeaky Sound?”, it was an overcast day. The lighting is very even and easy to work with. Shadows are minimal if not non-existent.
I guess the final thought with this blog is that before you snap the photo, take a look at your lighting situation. Position yourself or the subject in a place where you can control shadows the way you would like. The end result will be much more satisfying.