In the words of super model Janice Dickinson, “I find the light and work it, work it, work it.” Great lighting has the power to take a potential shot from good to great. Alternatively, poor lighting can render a fantastic photo useless. Here are some of our tips for finding and creating lit photos.
1. How to Shoot for the Best Light
Lighting can completely alter a picture. Beyond not being able to see the actual subject of the photo or video, shadows, as well as the tone of the light, can set the stage for beautiful content. One of the most important concepts when considering lighting is to shoot in the same direction as the light, not against it. For instance, if the sun is behind whatever you are shooting, it will render the object you are shooting too dark to see (you are lighting the back of the object not the front). Ensure the subject is front lit to illuminate details. Prior to snapping, look at the image through the screen to see how the shadows and lighting affect the shot and adjust from there.
2. Improve Outdoor Lighting
Have you heard of the Golden Hour? It’s not just an outstanding Kacey Musgraves album, it’s the period of time immediately after sunrise or prior to sunset when the lighting is warmer and softer than the rest of the day, creating a golden glow perfect for your content. If you are shooting in the the middle of the afternoon, when the sun is at its brightest, utilize shade from a tree, an overhang, or if nothing is available, try a light-colored umbrella to diffuse the light. Otherwise the image will have too much brightness and you will miss out on color and detail.
3. Bonus Lighting Tip for iPhone Users
When you tap on the screen to focus your image, a little yellow sun symbol will appear. If you tap and hold that sun, a scale will appear that you can adjust up and down to adjust the exposure (brightness) of your image.
1. Ways to Improve Indoor Lighting
If you are shooting indoors, there are a couple of steps you can take to improve the lighting and quality of your images or video. Piggybacking on the topic of natural lighting, you can find it indoors by taking your pictures near a door or window. If that’s not an option, consider a lighting set-up. Read our sister company SEOversite’s thoughts on creating a DIY lighting kit. Consider buying an LED ring light that will create a uniform luminescence from your camera’s point of view. You can get ring lights that range from compact options that clip onto your smartphone to large ring lights on stands. The size of the light needed depends on what you are shooting. Typically, if you are filming video or taking photos where you need high quality, such as before and after pictures in your office or salon, you will want a larger light on a stand. If you’re trying to take the perfect selfie or document your tacos next Tuesday, the portable light to clip on to your smartphone should do the trick.
1. Popular Editing Tools
You can’t fix everything, so begin with a adequate original product. Sometimes a few tweaks from an editing app will seal the deal. Before posting any photo, there are four things we always check: brightness, contrast, highlights, and shadows. These are typically set up on a sliding scale that you can move up and down and see what adjustments look best. A few popular editing tools are VSCO, A Color Story, Afterlight, Snapseed, and Lightroom.