Lighting Q&A – Part 1

by | Jun 25, 2010 | Tips & Tricks | 0 comments

“Hi! I happened on your site by chance and have a question for you. I’m also starting out in photography (I have a Canon Rebel) and am having trouble with the lighting when I take pictures indoors. All of your pictures are beautiful  in the indoor shots, the lighting is great, how do you do it?” – Kelli

Hey Kelli,

You’ve got a great question. Of the three main elements of photography (lighting, subject matter, and composition), lighting is probably the most important. I still struggle with indoor lighting situations even though I’ve found a few techniques that have helped me make them not look quite so bad. With a little practice and possibly the addition of a few pieces of equipment, you’ll have people asking you the same question before too long.

I started out with a very similar camera to your Rebel. It was a Canon 20D. Like everyone else, I used the internal flash for awhile; but I intentionally quit using it because of the very unnatural look it produced. I knew there had to be a better way.

Example of ambient light captured by a slower shutterspeed_2661 I began using slower shutterspeeds inside to let in more light so I wouldn’t have to use the flash. But I soon found that this almost always resulted in blurry images. So then I began setting the camera down in all kinds of odd places so camera shake wouldn’t be a problem. This worked for awhile, but the pictures still weren’t perfectly sharp and shadows were a big problem.

Example of bounce flash with a speedlight_2661_7473 Finally, I asked my parents for an external speedlight flash for Christmas. This is where indoor photography took a complete 180. Instead of contributing direct lighting to a scene, the swivel head of the speedlight allowed for indirect, deflective lighting from pretty much any direction by bouncing the light off walls or ceilings. This is probably the technique that you have seen in the pictures on our website. It makes for very soft, directional lighting that is very flattering.

But the 180 didn’t come over night!

To be continued . . .

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