I learned things a little backwards. First I learned how to light things with off-camera flash, then I learned how to handle natural light a little better. (As opposed to you know, learning how to shoot with ‘natural light’ and then adding flashes and stuff.) So unless I’m forced to use available light, I’ll almost always try to add some light into my photos with some off camera flash.
The above shot was made with only available light – mostly from the skylight in our studio space (yes! Our studio space has skylights!) It looks like the light was totally manageable in the above shot – but that’s after some adjusting of the brightness/contrast stuff. We generally don’t tether our cameras to a laptop, so on set we’re relying on the back of our screens to tell us how we’re doing. Of course – when it gets dicey, you can’t only rely on your picture display – you have to take a look at your histogram. The problem is that even then it’s a little tricky and you really just need to have a good understanding of what you can do in editing, depending on what is on your histogram.
The fact is – you want to do as much work possible while taking the photo – and not all in editing. At least that’s what we prefer to do because if it’s close to great in camera – it’ll be much easier and less work once we get it onto our computer screens.
In conclusion – I thought that with only natural light, the shadows would be too dark, and the lit areas were too bright. So I added some light.
Obviously, that’s a lot of light – but in camera you can tone down how bright the lights really are. I wanted to light the space up a little more, but still show the beam of sunlight shining down on them.
I thought I was done with the above photo, but then I started wondering what it looked like with only the sun light. So I went back and took a look at some shots where the flashes didn’t fire because they were still recycling.
The shot above is only using natural light. With a few fixes and adjustments, it mostly works. What I was most worried about was having Kendell’s eyes just be complete black holes in his head sitting there in the middle – and yeah, that’s what they kind of are.
So I re-edited the ‘lit’ photo to be a little darker… and that’s the shot below.
And then I got kind of crazy thinking about which one I liked, the different qualities of light in each and then I had to stop. Because you can edit and adjust these things 476 different ways and it all comes down to preference and what story you’re trying to tell. It doesn’t necessarily have to be all dark and shadowy. I kind of like all three of the edits – but that’s because you have to look at them as three different photos. That’s why light in your photographs is so important – it changes everything.
We’re flying up to Indiana tomorrow to photograph a wedding.
See you soon.