Tuesday’s Tip: Utilizing Natural Light

Utilizing Natural Light by Lisa Holloway


I haven’t specialized in the way of choosing newborns or seniors, etc, but I think I am very good at utilizing natural light.  My biggest tip would be to locate areas that you can create directional lighting on your subjects.  By directional lighting, I mean that you will have distinct areas of both shadows and highlights on your subject to help sculpt their features and breathe life into them – it makes them seem real.  This is especially important when you want to create a compelling black & white image – once the color is taken away, you have nothing left BUT the shadows and highlights to shape your subject.  Some of my favorite locations to use are garages, covered porches or patios, or an area with thick foliage or trees on one side – basically, you want something to BLOCK the light on one side, but let light in on the other side.  You can then experiment by turning your subject and watching how the shadows and highlights move across their face.  Generally speaking, your catch-lights (the light in your subject’s eyes) should be at about 10 o’clock or 2 o’clock, so always be looking for that.  The image above that I chose as my favorite image is a perfect example of this.  She was sitting on a hillside, so the hill itself was blocking light on the right side of her face (camera left) and the light was being let in on the other side to create a beautiful, dramatically lit portrait.

Here is another example – I simply used the interior of the old truck to create soft shadowing on the right side of the little boy’s face, while the other side of his face was open to the light pouring in the truck window.  The soft shadowing helps define his features and make him look as though he is really sitting there, right in front of you!  There are so many different locations/things in your environment that can give this same kind of look – it’s like a treasure hunt trying to locate them!


One more example – this is an older image of my now 15 year old son (he was just 12 at the time this picture was taken) with my now 3 year old daughter when she was a baby.  I set up my roll of thunder grey seamless paper and angled them at about 70 degrees to the opening of the garage so that I would get dramatic shadowing and highlights.  The shadowing is created by the darker interior of the garage and the highlights are created by the light coming into the garage from the open garage door.  This has always been one of my favorite images.

Thank You Lisa for sharing with us!!  Please be sure to stop by her FAN PAGE and leave her some LOVE!

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