Photography Lighting Solutions

"In the right light, at the right time,
everything is extraordinary"

Aaron Rose remarked once, "In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary. So to me, the most extraordinary photographs are those shot in available light. A photograph completely captured in natural light: no light bulbs, sans electric flash seems so clean and pure, just those beautiful shadows. It would be just wonderful if you could capture that fantastic "golden hour" illumination streaming throughout your place at all hours of the day and night? If you only had a magic lamp with three wishes! ✓

Ok, enough daydreaming; most family "functions" occur at nighttime and what a nuisance it can be putting up with with indoor illumination! You must determine the type of lighting it is; is the light soft, harsh, incandescent, or fluorescent. do we even care enough to bother with those meanings? No thanks! There are certain actions that you may take to compose your inside, artificial-light images as first-rate as they might be under the lighting situation!

Use a diffuser on your flash

Omni Bounce FlashWhen you shoot photos indoors, often the major light source on your subject is a flash. Unfortunately, a flash creates an abrasive illumination on your subjects which most often results in sub-par images. For softer light, install a flash diffuser. It resembles a white box which fits over your camera's flash unit. When the flash bursts, the lighting will become diffused, radiating a more unpretentious glow on your subject. A diffuser may be obtained online or at a local camera shop, or if you are short on cash, create your own flash diffuser by attaching some white tissues over your camera's flash with rubber bands. Using a diffuser turns out best when you are doing close range shooting. Although a diffuser softens the light, it also spreads it out, reducing your "working distance". To compensate for this reduced working distance, use a faster film or (with digital cameras) switch to a higher ISO level.

Bounce your flash

Bouncing your flash off the wall or a ceiling can also create natural-looking effects. The photos featured below were bounce flashed towards a ceiling as the photos were shot. This allowed the flash to produce soft surround light, rather than creating harsh shadows.

PBL reflectorsSet up a reflector

A reflector will re-direct natural light to the scene you are photographing. No reflector? Not a problem. Use some white board or white poster board as a reflector of light. Just have someone outside the picture range hold it near the subject to properly light it on every side. This is particularly effective with black & white photography.

Stay away from yellow light

We have all received those photos back containing a yellow cast about them. The image is alright, but that yellow hue spoils everything. a way to eliminate the yellow glow, is to use a flash (check out the tip above) or just change the light bulbs. Try employing an incandescent bulb (which features a blue color instead of the yellow). Get one of those GE Reveal bulbs the next time you are out shopping and give it a try! In addition, try using a bulb with less wattage. If there's a dimmer switch, use it to your advantage by testing the light intensity on your subject. Adjust the lighting from dark to bright and notice where the illumination is striking in your scene, then adjust accordingly.

Use what you have

Take a look at the existing light fixtures already in the room. Do they point straight down on your scene from up above? Can the fixtures on the ceiling fan be moved around? Work with the lighting so that it does not directly strike your subjects and bounces from a wall or door instead. This will act as a temporary fix when in a bind.

At a risk of seeming "clichéd," one last tip is to forever keep in mind, "Practice makes perfect." By using a digital camera, there's the advantage of instant discovery. Use this to discover more about illumination and you’ll be an experienced pro the very next time you require some quality indoor photographs. So go ahead and make those mistakes now so they won't happen down the road when it really matters! updated article May 6, 2011

Kitchen photo with bounce flash Shot with Nikon SB400 Bounce Flash
Example: Interior Looks Too Dark
Example: Interior Looks Too Dark. Shot with Nikon 18-55mm kit lens.
The shot on right used bounce flash and Photoshop for lighting
This shot used bounce flash and Photoshop for lighting... what could be easier? Shot with Sigma 10-20mm lens.

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