Lighting isn’t just one of the most important elements to help make sure that you’re taking great looking, professional quality photos at all times – it’s arguably the most important element. If you look at a photograph captured by a novice and compare it to one of the same subject taken by someone who knows what they’re doing, the image taken by the pro will immediately stand out as a higher quality than the amateur one. The reason for this is simple: the professional knows how to use lighting to his or her advantage. If you want to take your photography skills and elevate them to the next level, there are a few key things that you’ll need to keep in mind about lighting in particular.
Turn off the Flash
Generally speaking, the flash on your camera should only be used in very specific situations. If you’re indoors in a dimly lit room and don’t have any other lighting sources to use, using the flash in that situation would be better than no flash at all. The issue is that for most situations, the flash will instantly create a kind of flat quality to the image that will also be marred by harsh shadows behind your subjects. The people or objects that you’re actually trying to photograph will look too bright and washed out and the background will virtually disappear, leaving you with a pretty uninspired image. For the best results, turn that flash off and never look back.
The Three Point Lighting System
If you’re attempting to become a professional photographer, one of the first accessories that you’ll want to buy after you’ve chosen the right camera is a basic light kit. You’ll find that by using a simple three point lighting system, the quality of the photos that you’re capturing will increase exponentially almost immediately.
In a three point lighting system, two lights are placed at a roughly 45 degree angle on either side of your subject. This will help make sure that the person is evenly lit, allowing them to photograph properly in the finished images. The most important aspect, however, is the light that you place behind your subject. Commonly referred to as the “fill light,” this particular light source is responsible for taking care of all of those harsh shadows behind your subject that are being created by the other two lights. With the three point lighting system, your subject will be beautifully lit and you won’t have to worry about distracting background shadows getting in the way, either.
The Sun: Nature’s Light Kit
Sometimes, however, you don’t need additional lighting equipment at all. If you happen to have the pleasure of photographing outdoors on a bright, sunny day, you can use the sun to gather all of the light that you need for professional quality images. For the best results, try to photograph your subjects with their back to the sun. Not only will they not have to squint because the sun’s in their eyes, but all shadows being created by the sun will also be in front of the subject instead of behind them.
Learn How Your Camera’s Settings Affect Light
Even if you think that you don’t have enough available light in a room to capture the images you want, you can still play around with your camera’s settings to achieve the desired affect. If you’re shooting in a dimly lit room, for example, try opening up the shutter or taking a longer exposure. This will let more light into the camera’s lens, allowing the photo to appear as bright as possible. Just make sure that your subject stands very still or you could wind up with a beautifully lit, blurry finished image.