How to take bright photos for your blog
One of the most frequent questions I get asked about photography, is how I get my pictures to look so bright, and so today I’ll share a few tips with you for taking better, brighter photos.
Before I start, I want to once again remind you guys that I am not an expert when it comes to photography, but I did make considerable progress and improvement over the years (check out my Photography Tips for Bloggers post if you don’t know what I’m talking about and to see what my pictures looked like only a few years a go), so please keep that in mind.
One of the best ways to guarantee a clean, bright image is to use natural light. I showed you guys my usual set up for product and food photography before; I basically take my photos next to a huge kitchen window/sliding door. It’s one of the brightest areas in my house, so I would recommend that you take your photos in a bright room. Another thing to remember here is time of the day. If you’re taking photos outside, generally the best time to do so is about an hour and a half after sunrise and an hour and a half around sunset. For indoor photos, I noticed that I am able to get that perfect lighting somewhere between 8-9 am. Sometimes I can get away with taking pictures as late as 11am, but on most days the sun is really harsh around this time of day and way too bright and difficult to work with. This, of course is different for everyone else and may depend on where you live, your surroundings, etc.
Another thing to keep in mind, is positioning of the product: it can make a huge difference. Generally, I like to take “flatlay” photos, where my subject(s) is on a flat surface, while I take my pictures “from above” while standing over it. Other times, I place my products directly in front of me, while my back is facing the light source. Just look at the two images below to understand what I mean. In the first image, my subject is facing me, there is a window behind it, and I am positioned facing the light source (in other words, I’m facing the window). In the second image, my product is facing the window, while I have my camera pointed away from the light (this time, my back is facing the window). I definitely recommend pointing your camera away from the light while having your product facing it.
Facing the light
Away from the light
Even though I don’t think there is anything better than natural light, sometimes I have no choice but to use artificial lights. As I already mentioned in my previous photography posts, I use two soft boxes (these are similar to mine) and a ring light (this one is similar to mine). Soft boxes are definitely a cheaper option and work pretty great if you know how to adjust your camera settings properly. I wouldn’t recommend taking photos in the evening, with your regular, room lighting on (like ceiling lamps, etc) but if you do not have any other choice, I’d recommend playing around with White Balance settings. The “Auto” White Balance setting will almost always, always leave an ugly, yellow cast on indoor photos (that aren’t taken during the day with natural light filing the room).
Taken using my soft boxes, I have one placed on each side.
Also taken using my soft boxes, I once again have one placed on each side.
Taken using my ring light, placed right in front of the product.
Having a limited source of light, means that most of the time you need to work with what you’ve got. One of the most helpful and inexpensive solutions for making my photos brighter was buying a white reflector. I use it to bounce off the light that’s coming through the window, which in turn makes the image brighter and eliminates any shadows. This reflector is collapsible, which makes it very easy to store and travel with. If you don’t want to invest in a reflector, you can easily use white cardboard instead. This is what my set up looks like:
You can see that using a reflector also makes a huge difference in food photography (to check out more tips about food photography read this post). In the photo on the left I have a window on the right side and nothing on the left side. On the right image, I placed my white reflector on the left side to bounce off the light coming through the window and ended up with a brighter, more appetizing image.
I’ve already stressed the importance of using manual settings on your DSLR. While it can be very overwhelming at times, it’s definitely worth getting to know your camera and being able to adjust your settings accordingly to your set up, lighting and other circumstances. If you still have trouble using manual settings, check out this post where I discussed some basics. One of the most important settings that can help you achieve a brighter image is ISO, which is your camera’s sensitivity to light. The higher your ISO, the more sensitive it is. To show you what cranking up your ISO can do for your images, I took two photos; one with ISO 160, another one with ISO 1600. You can see that there is a HUGE difference between these two images. Usually I like to keep my ISO as low as possible (preferably around ISO100), but being that today the weather is very gloomy and dark, I had no other choice. The reason why I like to keep my ISO settings low, is the fact that as you bring your ISO up, you can jeopardize the quality of your image. High ISO settings tend to leave images looking blurry and very grainy. Definitely keep that in mind when playing around with your ISO. Both images were shot at f/2.8.
Hope you enjoyed this post, as always, let me know if you have any questions. Make sure to check out my other photography posts like this one:
Photography Tips for Bloggers (& DSLR basics)