Saturday, April 24, 2010

With real estate it’s location, With photography it’s lighting

I am not a photographer, at least not professionally, but I do love the challenge, and believe me with my boys it definitely is a challenge, to get the perfect shot.

In college I took some camera production and filmography classes where we learned about composition, positioning, lighting, etc.  Things like f-stop, shutter speed, exposure, and rule-of-thirds ring through my head, but I don’t remember as much as I would like.  So, when I take photos I try to apply what is tucked away in my brain.  I’m fascinated with browsing professional photo blogs, and try to glean any tips or techniques I can find.  However, my simple point and shoot Canon doesn’t allow me to get too creative like those fancy SLR’s I covet from my friends and super-cool photographer sister-in-law.  And even then I have to doctor up almost every photo in Adobe Photoshop (love it!).  So, I’ve learned to make it work.

The other day at Play Group, my friends and I were discussing trying to get professional looking photos at home.  One of the things I’ve learned/discovered is that lighting is everything!  At home I’ve found the areas where the natural light comes in the best and at what time of day.  That’s where and when I usually take my better shots.  By a window where the light falls softly through the shutters in the late morning is prime.  I don’t like the look from the flash, so I turn it off and use the natural light.  If the light from the window casts a strong shadow then it is too harsh (or bright).

This is my favorite window spot to take pictures. 

mommy & Brayden 7 months

One of the places I’ve found that has great light is in my garage—surprise.  When I got home from the Playgroup, I took this picture while standing in my garage door frame looking out to the street. Just to demonstrate. No flash and no lighting editing on Adobe. You can even see the garage door in my minivans reflection :)


Photos outside on a sunny day can be tricky.  But, if I find a good shaded, but not too shady spot, I scrub my boys faces and pull out the camera.  On this same day (I was on a roll) I noticed that the tree in my yard was casting a perfect shady spot (not the kind where it makes weird leaf shadows on the face), so I forced my boys to play photo shoot. Now, although appropriately shaded spots can provide good filtered sunlight, it can be a little too dark.

Like this first shot…

april 002

So I like to get technical and use one of the few manual functions available on my camera called Exposure.  Sometimes it takes a few tries to get the right look I’m going for.
Here I increased the exposure to +3/4…

april 001

Better, but I thought it looked a little dull. So I changed my function from manual setting to the “foliage” option, which makes every thing a little bit more vivid, and I bumped up the exposure to +1.

april 005

Finally, I was happy with the look. Unfortunately, my baby was not.

april 008

After a quick run into the house for a bottle, and and we were back to business. I took some more shots, playing with the exposure.  This time I bumped it up a little more.

april 010

Soon my three year old noticed the camera and he was mister photogenic as always.

april 014

He called this “The Thinker” pose.

april 027

My five year old was in a mood so he didn’t feel much like posing.

april 019

I still stole some shots.

april 026 

Another thing I like to do is use solid blankets for backdrops.  I find good light, drape a blanket over something, plop my kiddos in front of it, turn off my flash, adjust the exposure, and hope they stay still long enough. 

Here are some examples…

Brayden two weeks old 023

Sometimes I find cool spots for a backdrop, like a stone wall…


A friend’s front porch…

Thanksgiving 005

Or even the driveway…


And then there’s those times that God’s creation does all the work…

IMG_0040 IMG_0002 cali 2009 023
seneca lake

Or sometimes a cute shot is just a cute shot, even if they are sitting in front of the oven, on the dirty floor, in a diaper, with a forgotten bottle in the background…


You catch un-posed, candid moments like this and that’s what it’s really all about anyway.
To conclude, if you want to actually get some good inspiration and information from the pros, here are some blogs I like to stalk:
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Stacy said...

Beautiful. I love the one of you and little man in front of the window. Gorgeous!

Melody's Voice said...

Great pictures! You look like a skinny minnie!

Sharla said...

Great picture tips! I think I've been discovering some these on my own (not all of them, or understandind exactly why I like the lighting etc), but more advice is always good. I would love to take a photography class sometime. I'm glad my kids are good sports and let me take their pictures - usually :). I actually like the pictures I take better than a studio - my kids are more real with me and mostly cooperative ;)

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