That pop-up flash on-top of your camera can come in very handy, but how about trying these flash alternatives that can help you produce more creative, atmospheric images? In this post, guest bloggers from Photoventure run down some of the best options.
1. Natural light
Natural light can seem in short supply when you’re shooting indoors, but if you head towards the window you’ll find that things improve dramatically. What’s more, you can use a window like a large studio softbox.
On a sunny day in the northern hemisphere the best bet is to find a north-facing window (a south facing one in the Southern hemisphere) as this will give you nice, soft light without any hard highlights or dense shadows.
If you’re shooting a portrait you can ask your subject to stand right in the window (or doorway) and get them to turn until the light works for you.
If you position a reflector opposite the window you can bounce light back onto the darker side of your subject.
Alternatively, try shooting from within the room looking towards your subject in the window and increase the exposure to blow-out the window light, but correctly exposure your subject for a high-key look.
You don’t have to have expensive studio lights to illuminate still-life or portrait images indoors, you can use household lamps.
Anglepoise lamps work very well because you can usually manipulate them to shine light just where you want it.
You can also use tin foil or card around the lampshade to shape the light so that it falls exactly where you need it.
As with window light, you can use reflectors to bounce light back into the shadows.
One thing to bear in mind when using artificial light is that your camera’s automatic white balance system may struggle to get the shot neutral.
You may find one of the lighting-specific white balance settings works well, but it’s usually better to set a custom white balance value.
Your camera’s manual will explain exactly how to do this, but it usually involves photographing a white or grey target (a sheet or card is fine) in the same light as your subject and then telling your camera to use this image to set the white balance.
In some cases, the white balance is set as you take the photograph provided you are in the correct mode.
You can use a torch in the same way as you would a household lamp, but because it’s small and portable you can move it around your subject for all-round illumination.
You’ll need a long exposure to allow yourself enough time to pass the light over the whole subject, so a low sensitivity setting is essential and the camera needs to be mounted on a tripod to keep it steady.
This technique is usually referred to as ‘painting with light’ and it’s great fun as each attempt produces something different.
As with a household light, a custom white balance setting is the best option, but if you shoot in raw format you’ll have the maximum level of control over the final colour of your images.
You don’t have to limit yourself to shooting still life when you’re painting with light, you can head outside at night and give a bigger subject a go.
You could even try using your car lights to add some light.
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