Hello and welcome to my blog! I am a portrait and wedding photographer based out of Madison, Wisconsin. Here you will find my latest work and what I've been up to. Please feel free to browse and comment!

For more information and pricing, visit my website at www.jennvanwyk.com or find us on Facebook!

If you have any questions or would just like to chit chat, I'm available at jenn@jennvanwyk.com or 608.335.9213

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How to Take Better Pictures - Light

Being a professional photographer, I get asked A LOT what type of camera people should buy. But, there is so much emphasis on the equipment, the lenses, whether or not they have a point and shoot or a DSLR... and on and on. But honestly, I could have the best camera and lens combination money can buy and if I as a photographer use it in the wrong light - you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between my fancy smancy camera and a less expensive point and shoot.

The more I learn about photography, the more I find out that light can make or break your photos.

Let's take a look at some examples:

Looking at the top two photos, you can see two things. One, I really like to get desserts at festivals (but that's besides the point...) and two, can you see the difference an overcast sky makes? In the top left photo, it is noon, the sun is out and is HARSH. Noon on a bright sunny day is one of the worst times to take a portrait. Do you see how the harsh shadows are across my face and especially on my shoulders and chest? And it was so bright I didn't want to take my sunglasses off for this one.

This is in contrast to the photo on the top right, where it was a little bit later in the day and the skies were overcast. The clouds actually act as a large diffusor, and lessen the impact of light on my face. There are no harsh shadows, and the photo is evenly lit (meaning no one spot is brighter than another). I would love to have a session in the lighting conditions on the top right, where as on the top left, my clients would fire me! :) There are some tricks to shooting in bright noon light... but more on that later!

Let's look at the bottom two photos. Notice two things. One, my husband is very handsome (but that goes with out saying :) ) and two, the golden hour is happy clappy awesome! The photo on the bottom left was taken later in the day with overcast skies. It is very similar exposure wise to the photo on the top right. No harsh shadows, and there are not bright and dark spots in the photo. But look what happens during the golden hour.

Time out - what is the golden hour you ask? The golden hour is essentially the last hour that the sun is up before it is completely set. The light is golden, soft, and almost magical. In my opinion this is the best time of day for portraits (hence why I try to schedule all of my sessions during the golden hour when possible).

The light in the photo on the bottom right has the bright and warm, and look at how it pops the color in Brian's eyes. The light adds an extra dimension to the photo, and brings some interest.

Note that all four of these photos were taken with the same camera, but all four pictures are different. It wasn't the equipment that makes or breaks the photos, it is the light.

So, to recap, to create beautiful photos no matter what your equipment is:

- Avoid harsh light, especially between 11am and 1pm
- Overcast skies aren't that bad after all! They diffuse the light, and create great portraits
- The "Golden Hour" is the optimal time to take photos

1 comment:

  1. How wonderful that you are sharing all these free tips with your readers. Thank you! I also noticed that not only do you like desserts at fairs, but you like yellow/orange ones!:)