Posts Tagged ‘background’
I think one of the biggest bangs for the dollar in photographic lighting is to bounce one flash /strobe head into a wall. It creates a wonderfully natural soft light that flatters just about everyone and it’s easy to setup and easy on the pocketbook. When it works, it really works.
And it works best when the wall is white. White is the most reflective color and, more importantly, it’s neutral in color. When you shoot white light at a white wall white light bounces back.
But when you shoot white light at a green wall green light bounces back and green is not the most flattering color for most subjects. Think seasick.
Fortunately, I’m able to convince most people I photograph that black and white is beautiful and my problem is completely eliminated. There is no green in black and white. (I find that just about everyone LOVES black and white—lucky for me.)
- Find a new wall or use the ceiling if it’s white. If you bounce the light into a ceiling too close to the subjects the effect will be overhead light. Be careful.
- Use an umbrella or other white light softener as best you can.
- Hang a white sheet on the wall and use that—don’t laugh, I’ve done it.
- Attempt to remove the weird color in editing which is not always that easy.
But what I want you light bouncers to get here today is that wall color will shift the color of the light that’s landing on your subjects and you need to take it into consideration.
Knowing how to use lighting equipment—even if it’s one small, detachable flash unit—often means that you need to how to soften the light. (Soft light has minimal shadows and hard light has sharp, distinct shadows. A cloudy day is soft light; direct sunlight is hard.)
When you’re shooting portraits with a light you can use a technique called “bouncing”. Instead of pointing the light at your subject you can point the light at a nearby wall and create a large soft light source. This softens the shadows and creates a pleasing natural look. You can, however, fine tune the hardness or softness of the light by how far you place the light away from the wall.
In the top photograph the light is actually pointing at the wall 12 feet away. The light itself is almost next to my little subject, but all of the light that’s hitting her is bouncing off the distant wall. The result is soft and flattering.
In the bottom example, I put the light a foot from the wall that was across the room. The result is a light source that’s much smaller and the resulting shadows are sharp and harsh. Notice the shadow from her nose going across her cheek. You may or may not like it, but you can control it’s intensity by how far you place the light from the wall.
If you’re shooting color photographs the color of the “bounce” wall needs to be considered. A white wall is preferable, but I have color-corrected some bounced light coming off some fairly funky colored walls.
This is yet another simple way to use one light to create different lighting effects.
As some of you may know I have a website for kids where we do a weekly lesson—I wanted to share this week’s assignment with you. I’m talking to kids in this video, but don’t think there aren’t a couple of six-year-olds at www.iclickwithnick.com that can’t shoot circles around a lot of grownups.
I describe this week’s lesson as a bit of a brain teaser. Like all good brain teasers the answer is obvious when you see it. But it’s fun, too, and I can’t wait to see what the Clickateers do with it this week.
The question is this: How do you photograph a person with a large object like a house or a church or a monument? How would you photograph someone next to the Washington Monument?
Ask yourself that question and draw a picture of your answer before you watch the video. Good Luck!
When you put type on picture it’s generally in another layer. This is not a lesson about layers; it’s a lesson about dealing with cluttered backgrounds. It’s a method for putting typography on a distracting picture that doesn’t want to accept it.
If a picture is multi-colored or multi-textured the picture is going to put up resistance to typography. There’s no color of type that blends in well against something that has all the colors of the rainbow. It’s a problem. Type needs to pop. Your eyes need to read the words easily. Type wants areas of one solid color or shade to jump out of the picture. Any bump in the road is unacceptable. Type needs to be legible.
When you have a background of clutter lowering the contrast can often help. It’s often the bright whites of the background photo that are competing with the type. I’m going to suggest you solve the problem in curves. In the video I show you how to eliminate anything that’s pure white from the picture and eliminating anything pure white often lowers the distractions from the photograph.
I realize that many of you have never even considered putting type on a photograph. You think it’s some kind of high-level design thing. It’s not. Putting the proper words on a picture can be incredibly satisfying. Please don’t run away from the idea.
Here’s a great way to photograph small objects. (Generally, that’s referred to as “still lifes”.) It could be jewelry, it could be your favorite flower, it could be legos. If you have a bunch of little tiny objects you want to sell on eBay and you want to make them look beautiful and valuable this is your ticket. It’s a high end, expensive-looking professional lighting technique and it all happens in a plastic, one-gallon milk bottle—you will not be photographing your car with this technique. But don’t kid yourself. Where ever beautiful light happens, it moves people.
The photo studio word for this is a “tent”. Picture yourself in the kind you sleep in. If you’re laying on your back on an air mattress and you look up the tent is covering your view from horizon to horizon. A photo studio tent does the same thing for what ever it is you decide to photograph. There’s a little hole at the top to poke your camera in. A photo tent is made of translucent white material that will soften whatever light source you point at the tent from the outside. If you can picture that you can picture beautiful white light inside this wonderful little pyramid. It’s really a temple of beauty.
My “tent” is made of a milk bottle. I cut a hole in the top just big enough for the lens I wanted to use. I also put a slit very close to the bottom so I could put the object to be photographed in there without trying to drop it in from the top.
Here’s the most important thing to know about a photo tent. The whole idea is that you have surrounded your subject as best you can with all white. You want white, even light reflected in everything from all directions. The hole in the top for the camera is an invasive compromise—you may see the darkness of your camera lens any smooth reflective surface.
Backgrounds are always important for still life photos—just look at the perfume ad photos. If you watch the video you’ll see that I used a piece of slate—a gray, flat rock—to photograph Anne’s gold necklace from her father. (I saw it in a perfume ad. What can I tell you?) You could obviously put anything in the bottom of the milk bottle to serve as a background. Your imagination is the limit. You could put a layer of gravel or sand in the bottom or wood or a piece of black velvet or sandpaper. I’ve always found that natural objects you find in the woods or beach or on a hike look great next to shiny metal and glass—or anything else for that matter.
You can practically use any light source. A lamp that you can move around and position to your liking is the secret. I used a fluorescent work light from my garage and set my color balance for fluorescent.
And like many of my other photo tips, if you have no desire to ever photograph a piece of jewelry, just the act of going through the motions is a little photo lesson unto itself.