October 27, 2011

Photography: Daylight

Using Light To Your Advantage
So, did you do your homework?  Did you pull out your camera and act like a crazy person?  I'm sure you were a cute kind of crazy.  ;)
Today we are going to talk about light.  If you only walk away with one thing today let it be this:
Daylight is a photographer's best friend

1. There is a time of day that is called the Sweet Hour (I don't know if that's an official term but that's what I call it.  Should I get a patent on it?) It is about 1-2 hours before sunset.  If you want gorgeous pictures outside of your kiddos/dog/spouse/favorite dishcloth, this is the time to do it.  Or 1-2 hours after sunrise, but who is crazy enough to want to do it then??  Take your baby out on a quilt and take some shots at that time of day.  You will be amazed.   

2. One thing you have to be careful of is shadows.  Make sure the shadows of the branches above aren't making her face look like a puzzle:  

3. TURN OFF YOUR FLASH.  Who wants a shiny forehead?  By turning off the flash, you will have a much more natural glow... and no more red eye!  Use that natural light to your advantage.  I rarely use my flash.  Oftentimes, if you have your camera set on "auto" it will use the flash.  Try turning it off.  Sometimes Mr. Auto thinks he's smarter than he actually is.

If your life is anything like mine, that is the craziest time of day, filled with dinner and baths.  So here are some hints if you can't take the shots during the "sweet hour":

1. Water and sunlight make a gorgeous couple.  Much better than Brad and Angelina.
The best time is mid-morning or late afternoon, but don't put the camera away if you happen to be near water during mid-day ... you just might capture a fun picture like the one above.  :)

2.  Use the angle of the sun to your advantage.  Rather than having your subject face the sun and end up with the crazy the-sun's-in-my-eyes grin, try to have the sun to the right or left of their faces.  Look through the viewfinder to double check your subjects' faces.  Are they too shadowed?  If not, allow the sun to play off of their hair.  It gives a celestial glow :

3. Don't let an overcast day get you down.  It's actually a great filter for a good photograph.  Try it, you might be surprised.

4. Take advantage of the sunlight that comes into your home.  With the cold weather nipping at our heels, it's a good time to find a window in your home that has good light.  Often, when I want to do a still shot of something I will move it to my kitchen table because of the great natural light.

  To see my disclaimer and catch up on this little series go here.  Next time we'll talk about getting in their faces.  Did you know that when you have a camera in your hand, it's not rude?  :)


the bennetts said...

love it! i've been playing around with photography for a few years, and really got into it when I got a DSLR last year. am actually starting to get people who are paying me to take their photos! all because i take hundreds and hundreds of pictures a month, and read tutorials. like your mini-tutorials!

i absolutely love outdoor photos and good indoor photos with natural light. i hate flash. yuck. and auto? bleh.

the puzzle piece face? ugh. my worst enemy. showed up all over some of my friends' maternity shots. made me so frustrated but we were in a hurry and didn't have time to move around.

great post! sweet of you to encourage others to take beautiful photos like you do!

Rebecca @ heartland farmhouse said...

I couldn't agree more! I have been having so much FUN playing around with light this summer!

Kinda sad that soon I'm gonna be driven indoors by the cold weather! Maybe that will inspire me to finally snap those 'house' picture! We'll see!

Thanks for sharing!

Amy said...

When someone starts talking about f-stop and aperture, I have a mental block, so I appreciate your concise tips suitable for someone who doesn't want to get too technical. If that's the Gateway Arch, how in the world did you get a shot without tourists milling around in the background? Awesome!