There are a couple of key things that I wish I had found out earlier in my photography journey (or even as a new mum with a dslr!) Today, I share one of them, whether you have a point and shoot or a dslr, it will change the way you photograph, forever! What is it, you ask?
‘Yes, yes yes, we know that light is important in photography, we get it!’ But, what if I told you that I also knew light was important in photography, yet, for some reason or another it didn’t translate into my portraits for years? Previously my photos were okay, but they lacked real impact and sharpness, like the real professionals!
As a mother, being able to translate a tiny bit of what I see through my own eyes, into a photograph is such an incredible feeling. In this article, I show some pullback examples of natural light sources; what to look for and how it can have a dramatic effect on your pictures. I hope you can look through these examples and see that stunning shots don’t always have to have the most stunning surroundings. Real houses, real rooms. But with your eye and your creativity you can produce images that you love around your own home.
1. In the nursery
Strangely enough, in both of the houses we’ve lived in during our third child’s birth, the changing table has had to be placed in front of a window. This is the only window in the room and we are finding the room is especially dark in the winter months. One day as I got the baby up from his late nap, I noticed how soft yet illuminating the light was. Being so close to the light I set the ISO to 800 and maintained both a crispness and softness. Using my prime lens, fully open at f/1.8. I set the speed to 1/80th sec to allow for a correct exposure. You may find that you struggle with such a low speed if your child is busy and certainly at a more ‘active’ time of the day I would require a faster shutter speed for sharpness.
Final shots(Side note – he has the cutest rosy cheeks and red nose after his nap!)
The very next day I was excited to try out my new favorite spot. As you can tell, the weather had changed and the bright sunshine produced these fantastic rays of light across his skin. I can be a little preachy at times about avoiding direct sunlight due to the harsh contrast it causes but don’t be afraid to play with light! We have a white wardrobe opposite this window as well as as white closet door on the adjacent wall so the light reflected just enough to illuminate his face. This is an instance when a light reflector is not available ;-)
2. In home newborn session
Shortly after I’d had Mattheus, a dear friend of mine asked if I could take her newborn’s pictures. We set up in their living room that had two large windows on one side of the room and a smaller window on the back wall. We put a blanket over the end of their sectional couch and pulled back the blinds directly opposite keeping the other blinds partially open. Despite the huge window, it was a darkish day so I set my ISO at 1600. The sweet babe was calm so I shot at 1/80th sec at f/1.8. See the gorgeous catchlights in her eyes!
For detail shots such as feet, we simply turned her around so her feet were facing the the window.
3. Window light (with blinds)
I’m a sucker for bright sparkly eyes, who isn’t?! A sure fire way to get that is being close to a window. Of course your subject doesn’t need to be this close, but the allure of anything to pull up on was too much for this child! Blinds offer control over how much light you need to keep from over-exposing your shot. For this reason, my ISO was set lower than the previous examples at 400 and shutter speed at 1/125th sec. (f/1.8)
(I had to work a little faster here as he loves climbing down as much as pulling himself up! He’ll come over for a hug and repeats the process!)
Do you have a hallway, corridor / landing? (is this a British term?!) The likelihood is that your hallway leads to a room, or two or three! They provide an excellent source of light along the way if the doors are open. Take this sketch below for how much a little light can bring to your photo. This can be a practice of patience as you wait for your child to find the pretty light ;-)
This is such a great photography exercise. Follow your child around your home and look again at places you may have overlooked or disregarded as an uninteresting spot. Experiment!
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