Much of what I am covering in this article is already addressed in more detail in individual articles on LED, Studio Flash, Speed Lights and so on.
LED lighting has the benefit of the highest level of control of any form of artificial light source and is ideal for commercial imagery in the studio.
Studio flash does exactly what it says. It provides a high power controllable light source again in the studio, and is, in my opinion as a photographer of dance, the better medium for stopping movement.
Camera top flashes, especially dedicated E-TTL bounce head speed lights such as the Yongnuo YN565-EX found at http://www.fotogenic.com.au/Yongnuo_Speed_Light_SpeedLight_Cheap/Yongnuo_Speed_Light, are ideal for providing a light source out of the studio where natural light is either too weak, or too harsh.
So what about natural light?
Outdoors natural can be too harsh. How many of you remember mum getting the kids to line up squinting into the sun to take a holiday photograph where everyone’s faces looked like wrinkled beetroots? I have only ever asked that of a model once, and then because the background to the photograph, for a calendar shot, was better as a yacht marina than the rubbish dump out of shot to the right.
I shoot about 30% of my work by natural light indoors, much of it for my own calendar work and for publication, and I am going to apologise now to those who might be offended, so I have chosen images carefully for this article.
The image below was taken on a bright day in the keep at Deal Castle in Kent, the walls of which were all painted white. A single silver reflector just out of shot to the right provided the additional fill.
So, perhaps this would be a good time to look at reflectors and how their use affects the ambient light.
My father always carried his camera and a newspaper. It was, he said, so he could do the crossword, and have a portable reflector if he came across a great shot.
I have done the same, but nowadays reflectors are so inexpensive that it’s worth having a selection. For compactness and portability a couple of reflectors will normally suffice. Check out http://www.fotogenic.com.au/Photographic_Photography_Photo_Reflector_Reflectors_Kits_Sets/Photographic_Reflectors_5in_1_Photo where you will see the clever idea of a 5-in-1 reflector offering, white, silver, gold, translucent and black. “Black,” I hear you say! Yes, black – because you sometimes need to throw shadow into the subject. Most commercial studios have large reflectors often made of white polystyrene painted matte black on one side for that very reason.
A boom stand allows you to position the reflector precisely. You’ll find full details on this page: http://www.fotogenic.com.au/Photographic_Photography_Photo_Reflector_Reflectors_Kits_Sets/Reflector_Packages_Boom_Arm
Outdoors you sometimes need to protect the subject from excessive light, so in the shot on the left I used the foliage to create a soft light, whilst in the one on the right, the water of the canal and the reflected light from the white fluffy clouds above and behind me provided enough intensity to fill the shadows; (models Elisha V and Cherish Leigh):
To summarise then, you don’t need, and generally you don’t want bright sunshine, but natural light, if you have the choice, is a great medium. Just remember your newspaper.
Lighting for Digital Photography – original article © 2011 Barney Douglas at http://www.bdfoto.co.uk and http://www.bd-shop.co.uk
Article produced for Fotogenic Photographic Equipment of 3a Averill Street, Rhodes, NSW 21380, Australia
The republication or reproduction of any part of this article without the permission of the both Fotogenic and Barney Douglas is a breach of copyright.