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10 tips for better photographs

Film Vs Digital

Photoshop Quick Tips

 

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Lighting Techniques

Good lighting is one of the hardest aspects of photography to master, but it is probably one of the most important things to understand in order to take quality photographs.

First we need to recognize the different types of light and how they can be used to our advantage.

BacklightBacklight is unsurprisingly a source of light that is predominantly behind the subject, such as a girl silhouetted against the (see left). However, if you try to take a picture of a person in front of a window or bright lights the camera can meter for the bright backlight and underexpose the person.

Using fill light from a flash can add enough light to fill in the shadows and get a correct exposure. If this is impossible, simply move the subject.

 

SidelightSidelight is when the main source of light comes from the side of the subject, such as placing a person beside a window. This can give a very dramatic effect where you have one side of the subject’s face correctly exposed, while the other is dark. This is an excellent technique to show textures and add depth. If you want to lessen the effect, use a reflector to bounce light back to the shadow areas.

 

 

Diffuse the lightMidday sunlight is the worst time of the day to photograph – the light is too harsh which causes the whites to be too white, and the shadows too dark. Portraits taken in this light have unattractive shadows under the nose and eyes. We need to diffuse the light by using a diffuser to block out the harsh sun (eg. Umbrella) or if possible, move the subject to a shaded area or wait for the sun to go behind a cloud.

The Golden Hours, or early morning and late evening, when the sun is low and golden are the best times to take pictures. This is why sunrise and sunset make beautiful pictures. The light at this time is warm in colour and it enhances features as it is low in the sky.

Artificial LightArtificial Light can be anything from indoor light bulbs, to street lights, to electronic flash and in general is not the most ideal of light to photograph under. Light bulbs and street lights are not the same colour temperature as daylight or flash and will give a colour cast to a photograph. Electronic flash is harsh, causes deep shadows and can cause redeye (see Flash Photography).

Artificial street lights can be used to great effect while photographing street scenes at night (see How to photograph at night). And electronic flash is most useful for fill light in harsh sunlight.

 

Available LightAvailable Light means to use only the light that is already at a scene, without adding any electronic or studio flash. This can be effective for mood and atmosphere, but in low light conditions it means a tripod is a must, as a slow shutterspeed will be needed to capture the scene. Sometimes the use of available light and electronic flash can give good results – you get mood and atmosphere from the available light, while clever use of flash can give enough operating light to use decent shutterspeeds and can help define your subject from the background.

 

 

A little bit of experimentation and you will quickly learn to understand these very different lighting conditions and will be able to manipulate them to your own gain.

 

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