Lighting Basics for Better Images

I won’t get overly technical here because I want to share some really basic tips that can help you improve photography today without any special equipment or knowledge. All of these tips are about lighting. If there is one thing you can do to immediately to improve your photography it will be to understand lighting and to take advantage of it.

These tips can all be used without any special equipment, so what are you waiting for?

  1. Use natural lighting from a window or better yet get outdoors and take the photo. Of course living in Michigan, the outdoors isn’t always an option! Without getting too technical you can select in auto white balance on your camera or set a custom white balance if it’s sunny or shady etc. Generally I find that the auto white balance does okay, but using the overcast mode when it’s over cast makes my images closer to the true color. The more upfront you can do to take the photo right, the happier you will be and the less photo editing you will have to do.
  2. A DIY light-box: Don’t have access to a window or the outdoors? No worries you can make a very simple light box. All you really need is a frame surrounded with white paper or white fabric and a light bulb. Some of my best small object photography was done using a jankee light box that I made by carving out the sides and top of a sturdy cardboard box and replacing the sides with taped paper. Nothin’ fancy about that! If you are using a standard incandescent bulb it helps to pay attention to the white balance setting.
  3. Take advantage of the golden hour. The golden hour happens twice a day, early in the morning when the sun is rising and then again in the evening when the sun is setting. Of course depending on your geographical location and the time of year the time of day for the golden hour changes. Golden hour photography is especially popular for romantic shoots, it gives that warm fuzzy feeling. It’s also great for portrait photography and family sessions. 

You can create gorgeous photographs by taking advantage of natural outdoor lighting, learning to use your white balance on your camera, or by making a simple light box. DO you have a quick and dirty technique you use? Comment below and let me know!

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