Photography Labs Palmer AK
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742 South Alaska Street
Pioneer Studio(907) 373-6766
3720 Steven Drive
Ups Store(907) 376-6245
Photography by Devin(907) 746-2925
1150 South Colony Way
Star Shots(907) 644-5678
800 East Dimond Boulevard
Palmer 1 Hour Photo & Portrait Studios(907) 745-0211
301 West Elmwood Avenue
Airborne Technologies Inc(907) 357-1500
Inks Photographic Images(907) 373-1163
3370 North Banner Way
Alaska Screensavers(907) 490-4777
2248 Dawson Road
North Pole, AK
North Pole, AK
Tamarack Air Limited(907) 479-6751
Get the Right Light
Get The Right Light
Finding and creating soft, flattering light for portraiture
What is “better light?” With portraits, softening or diffusing the light often is the best strategy. Photographing people on a sunny day will result in strong contrast and shadows on the subject. What are your options to soften the light? You could return on a different day with no harsh sunlight, or you could move the subject into some shade or window light, add diffused flash to overpower the sunlight, or pop out a reflector and fill in the shadows. Let’s explore ways to soften the light.
Since the early masters of painting, window light has been recognized as an excellent source of diffused light. Often referred to as “north window light,” this term refers to ambient light entering the window without any direct sun rays. In the northern hemisphere, windows facing north normally don’t have direct sun coming through them, only natural ambient light. With this in mind, virtually any window at the right time of the day can be an excellent source of diffused light for a portrait.
Window light alone makes a great portrait light. If the shadows are too strong on your subject opposite the window, try using a reflector to bounce some light back onto your subject. If you really want to soften up the light, place a large diffusion panel between the window and your subject; this will diffuse the light further.
What about just moving your subject into the shade? True, this will soften the light and eliminate any harsh shadows on a sunny day. If you have no other options, use shade. But shade alone is very flat light and omnidirectional, unlike window light, which originates from a directional source. Try using a reflector in the shade to add a little directional quality to the light.
Using reflectors is the first step in learning to modify light. Reflectors produce what I call “real-time lighting.” What you see is what you get, and the light is consistent, so it’s easy to meter and adjust the angle of the light. You can make simple reflectors at home for about a dollar, though excellent collapsible reflectors are very inexpensive—no batteries needed, just pop them open and begin to shoot!
Reflectors come in a variety of styles, shapes and colors. There are two basic kinds of reflectors, collapsible and rigid. Small, circular collapsible reflectors are about a foot in diameter when open and fit into your photo bag or coat pocket. Just take them out of their bag, and they spring open. These reflectors work well with small subjects, from flowers to headshots. Collapsible reflectors also come ...