Monday, July 02, 2012

Available Light Photography

Available light photography simply means using natural light to shoot your photos. Whether you shoot a photo outdoors of a sunrise or of a get-together, you're involved in available light photography. In most instances 'available light' usually refers to shooting photos indoors, with only the room lighting used to shoot the scene. Now that doesn't mean that you can't take advantage of daylight coming in through a window, in fact, outdoor light coming into a room can make some of the best available light photos. It also doesn't mean that you can't help the situation a bit by reflecting some of that available light onto the right spots in your photographs. Reflecting some of the available light onto a model's face for instance, can be as simple as placing a piece of white paper or white cardboard at such an angle as to illuminate the model's facial features that best compliments her or his facial features.

When I am out shooting photos, I always have several different reflector's with me, whose purpose is to reflect light. I like the Photoflex products, because they come in various sizes from small to quite large in diameter, and they twist/fold down for storage in their own bag, and may be easily carried in a backpack. The light source can be artificial such as flash lighting or natural - the sun. The Photoflex LiteDisc 32" White/Gold Reflector is useful in removing dark shadows from your subject such as in outdoor portrait pictures. Also, remember that available light photography indoors usually requires the use of a tripod as well. The low light levels will cause your camera's automatic exposure system to select a very slow shutter speed, and slow shutter speeds mean that the camera must be held perfectly still to avoid any blur. I rarely go anywhere without my tripod, and it goes without saying that I shoot the majority of my photos with the use of a tripod.

Also, don't be afraid to use a reflector outdoors as well when shooting portraits of people, as when the sun is high in the sky, people's faces will often be shadowed by their own features, that is, shadows can often be seen under the eyes, the nose and the chin. Reflecting some diffused white light up and onto their faces will often soften the problem in a natural way. You can use your electronic flash in most cases, however there are times that I prefer a relector for a more natural look. So, with that, photography is all about controlling light. Good light can make or break a photograph. Landscape photographers usually go out early in the morning or late in the afternoon to catch the best light. Mid-day is the very worst time to take outdoor photos. So watch your light sources and may the gathering light shine on your photographs.

Of course its really about the light. Forget going out shooting photos when the sun is high in the sky, as the colors will just not come alive. The early morning light or the late afternoon light will enhance your photos because of the warmth of the low angle of the sun.Try not to include the sky on cloudy days and if a blue sky is part of your photo, a polarizing filter will darken it. If you have not used a polarizing filter before, be aware that the polarizer will do its best work when used 90 degrees to the sun. A enhancing filter may also be used to enhance colors, although much the same effect can be achieved in post processing on your computer.I always do my best to capture the best image that I can when out in the field, then will tweak the image if required in Photoshop. Remember though, If you do not put a effort in-to the capture of the image, then trying to fix it in Photoshop will not work if the photo is lacking in color, composition, and sharpness.

Also remember, when shooting landscapes, to keep your photo as simple as possible, as this will give you the most dramatic photographs. Also, don't be afraid to bracket your compositions, even so slightly. That way when you pre-view your photos, you will have more choices from which to choose. However if you are like myself, you need to edit your images or you will find that your hard-drives are filling up. I find that it is best to separate myself emotionally from my photos when editing them, so that I can make the hard choices needed to separate the good images from the bad. I bring up each photo on my computer screen and consider sharpness, exposure, contrast, color and whether the file format and size are appropriate. Also evaluate the composition, the impact and uniqueness of the image. This is where you get rid of duplicates and similars. Now that I rattled on way to long, lets get out and shoot some photos.

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