Now that the temperatures are dropping and winter is coming the days are also getting shorter, which means that taking blog pictures can be a bit of a nightmare.
I have to be honest though, sometimes I prefer the gloominess over harsh sunlight. When there’s nothing but direct, harsh sunlight coming through my window, there’s nothing that I can do, other than wait. But, if the weather outside is a bit gloomy and dark, then that’s something that I can work with.
FIND THE LIGHT AND USE A TRIPOD
First thing that you need to do is find the best light source you can. For me it’s always our kitchen- there’s a big glass door leading to the backyard which lets in a lot of light into that particular spot. It took me two years to realize that that’s the best spot for taking pictures in my house, so even if you think your house is a bit dark (like mine) keep looking. If you don’t have any big windows, I’d suggest setting up your subjects on a flat surface and opening the front door (any outside door that will let some light in). You can also try working on window sills. On those days when I find it really difficult to work with limited light, I also sometimes go outside. Another important thing to remember is time of the day during which you shoot. This will be different for everyone else. Now that the Daylight Saving Time has ended, I can take my pictures as early as 8.30am, but I can no longer get away with taking them during my usual time which is between 12.00 and 3.00 pm. This is because now that all the leaves are gone, there is way too much direct sunlight coming through my window. Lastly, always remember to use a tripod- when working with limited light I usually lower my shutter speed, which can make my photos look a bit blurry- this is why using a tripod is so important, it keeps your camera steady.
This is my usual setup (don’t mind the mess in the background, my kitchen has turned into a closet/makeup room/photography studio :P ) when my light source is even more limited than this, I get even closer to the window.
USE BRIGHT SURFACES AND REFLECTORS
This is something that I mention in pretty much every single one of my Photography posts: make sure to use bright surfaces and reflectors. You can use white cardboard to bounce off the light which will make your photos look brighter and a reflector to get rid of shadows. I use this 5 in 1 Collapsible Reflector and I never take photos without it. Using a reflector and white surfaces to bounce off the light can make a huge difference in the way your images look.
OPEN THE APERTURE + RAISE ISO
During dark and cold months I only reach for two lenses when shooting indoors: 50mm f/1.4 and 50mm f/1.8. This is because both are fast lenses and they can pass through more light than, for example, a lens with a maximum aperture of f/4.0. I also always keep my aperture really opened- usually at around f/2.2 (this lets in A LOT of light). I avoid using maximum aperture (like f/1.4 and f/1.8) because then the image might look too soft and not as sharp. If you want to learn more about your camera’s manual settings, see this post. Also, raising your ISO is something that you will most likely need to do when working with limited light. Keep in mind that depending on the lens and camera you’re using, it can make your images look grainy.
ISO: 160ISO: 1600
ISO: 125 Aperture: f/2.5 Shutter speed: 1/160 v. ISO: 125 Aperture: f/2.2 Shutter speed: 1/80ISO: 100 Aperture: f/2.5 Shutter speed: 1/160
ISO: 200 Aperture: f/2.2 Shutter speed: 1/80
When all else fails and the weather outside is really dreadful, that’s when I reach for my soft boxes. I will always prefer working with natural light, but now that it gets dark pretty quickly I don’t always have enough time during the day to take photos for my blog. I also sometimes use a ring light as well. If you’ve never worked with artificial light before but want to give it a try, keep in mind that you might have to experiment a little with your white balance settings. It took me a while to get used to working with soft boxes, but they’re definitely worth the investment, because during winter I reach for them quite a lot.
Using these soft boxes (placed on the left and right of my subject).
For more tips on taking bright photos, make sure to check out this post.