Hello! Welcome. This weeks blog is about lighting. Lighting for me was tricky. Since I am really self taught I learned everything the hard way. I did take a workshop with Joe McNally but the lighting he did was way over anything I had even attempted at that point and really still. I admire the creativity he has and the push to constantly try new things. I am kind of that way but on a much smaller level.
My photography techniques are pretty simple. They are things I have tried and what I have learned from those trials as well as the instruction I've received from some of the wonderful photographers I know. I generally don't use a flash, but I have. Most of my images are taken with natural light either inside or outside.
If you are located in the Pacific Northwest and you're experiencing the weather we are currently getting...snow! YAY! It's perfect for up lighting an image. I love to photograph in the snow, the light is amazing.
I will find plant either in my garden or purchase one, take it out plop it in the snow and start to photograph. The wonderful thing about this is the snow is white, it provides the most beautiful soft light if the conditions are right. The other wonderful thing, you can move the plant anywhere you want. You get to pick your backgrounds. If you are out photographing at a park or garden obviously you can't move the plant to get your background but you can position yourself to make the most of what you have. I'm generally on the ground so make sure you bring something with you that will allow you to get on the ground and be comfortable. If you're like me, you will be there for awhile. Pick a spot that's bright but not too bright. If the sun is shining find an area that's shaded, if it's overcast then you need to find an area that provides nice light. If you still don't have enough light then use a diffuser to help push or direct light into your subject. Watch how your subject changes as you are directing light into it. Push as much light as you need and then add more, if needed during processing.
The below image was taken outside, in the snow. I took this image late in the afternoon. The light was not the best. To get more light into my image I used a diffuser or I push my exposure. The colors in the background are the other flowers that were in this plant, I also placed the pot in an area that had more vegetation to fill in any holes there may have been.
When I processed the image I added a bit more light just to give the image what I was looking for. It's important to not over expose when shooting in the snow, if you do you run the risk of blowing out the whites and not being able to recover them.
Also, when you processing you may notice a slight color shift. If you photographed in the shade, the snow can give off a bluish hue. You'll need to adjust for that unless it's an effect you like.
In the winter I love to practice inside, especially when the weather does not favor shooting outdoors. I will set up in the house, in front of a bright window, find some flowers and play. I will shoot backlit images, side lit and shoot front lit. Watch your histogram and LCD screen to make sure you're getting enough light on your subject. If you need more light use a diffuser to push light into it or adjust the exposure. Remember though, if adjusting your exposure pay attention to the background, you may blow it out if you adjust to much. If you don't have a diffuser use a white piece of paper, white fabric anything white or really anything light that will push light into your subject. A note though...if using a color other than white, you will get some color cast. This can create interesting mood to your image and may be a welcome surprise. Try it what's the harm of expermentation?
Late afternoon backlight is probably my favorite time to shoot. The light on an image can simply be stunning. That soft sun glow is some of the most treasured light you will find. It's warm, inviting and gorgeous. Who doesn't like to see the sun through tall grass, or the outline of a flower. The sun kissed petal of a dahlia or a magnolia, don't forget the leaves too! Spring is a really nice time to get out and discover all the new growth in your area. Go to a garden or play in your yard, plan to be there in the late afternoon and go early enough you don't have to rush. If you have the opportunity go several time to get the overall feel of how the light will affect your subject and what time of day is best.
This image was taken in the spring. I'm fortunate to live in an area where I get some amazing afternoon light. This tree has the most beautiful colors when the leaves are coming out, they then turn into a pinkish color with kind of a green veining. It's called Eskimo Sunset. Really a beautiful tree and the former owners loved it. So, I thought it would be nice to capture an image for them. I thought it turned out really nice and could not have been more pleased with the light I was getting. I honestly could have stayed out all night long if the light would have lasted. It was that gorgeous.
Next to afternoon light, morning light is my next favorite. Something about the morning light just draws me in. The mood can be really amazing in the morning for macro, especially if you get some fog or rain. Everyone loves a fresh rain in the morning, the air is clean and the plants always look so fresh. This image was captured first thing in the morning, no fog but I loved the raindrops. The background are the trees behind my house which gave off an amazing depth on this morning. The slight white bokeh is just light peeking through the trees. I didn't do anything fancy for this image. I let the lily do all the talking while I just focused on photographing the beauty. Remember to watch the histogram and I generally underexpose my images so I don't lose any of the details.
That's it for this week. I hope I've provided something for you to think about while you're out photographing. Really look for the light, notice how it changes the landscape around you. Look at the shadows it creates and the highlights too.
Till next time, stay safe and stay healthy and keep clicking that shutter :)