How To Find Beautiful Light For Your Photos

How To Find Beautiful Light For Your Photos

What’s Inside: Light can make or break a photo.  Learning how to see and harness the different types of light in photography has to power to take your photos to the next level.

Disclaimer: This contains affiliate links and any purchases made through such links will result in a small commission for me (at no extra cost for you). I only recommend tools and resources I use and love!

Once I learned how to use my camera in manual mode I thought I’d be guaranteed beautiful photos.

Not quite so.

While the odds were now more in my favor, I still found that some of my photos were great, while others seemed lifeless and boring, or unflattering to my subject.

What made the difference?  Simply the light.

Aside from learning to control your camera settings, knowing how to find and work with different types of light in photography is vital to making great photos.

A great photographer learns how to recognize and harness different types of light in photography to set the mood, to flatter her subject, to tell her story, and to make magic in her photos.

I’ve heard it said that when taking photos you should first find (or look for) your light, then find your subject.  Before we pick up our cameras we should take a moment to notice and consider the light. 

What great advice!

Beautiful light has the power to make an ordinary moment extraordinary. 

types of light in photography

Identifying The Types of Light In Photography

As we examine different types of light in photography, it’s helpful to think in terms of the light’s DIRECTION, its INTENSITY (or QUALITY), and its COLOR.

Color will be covered in a separate post.  This post will focus on direction and intensity.

Light Has A Direction

The direction of the light that hits your subject will be

from the front (called front light, or flat light)

from the side (called side light, or directional light)

from the back (called back light)

The First Type of Light in Photography: Front Light (aka Flat or Even Light)

When the light hits your subject from the front and falls evenly across their features, your subject is front-lit.

This means the light is coming from somewhere behind and/or above your camera.

Front light is flat and even.  It produces little contrast between light and shadow on your subject. 

In this example, my little one had light falling on her from the skylight above her head, and windows to both her left and right.  She was looking up toward the light and her face is evenly lit.

It’s a good photo and a moment I’m happy to have preserved because it’s a face I see often looking up at me, but overall there’s not much contrast.  It’s “flat.”

In this example, my little one was looking up toward the camera again, which pointed her face directly at the light source, which was the sky above and behind me.  Again, her face is evenly lit with few shadows.

Advantages of Shooting In Front Light

Front light is easy to work with, especially for beginners.

When shooting in manual mode, it’s easy to find a good spot on the skin to take a meter reading. If you’re learning manual mode, front light is a great place to start.  Front light also tends to work well in Auto Mode.

{If you need help understanding manual mode, check out How to Use Your DSLR Camera.}

You can easily find front light indoors by shooting with your subject directly facing a window.

Due to the low contrast front light produces, front light can smooth the skin and be very flattering for portraits because it won’t accentuate any bumps, wrinkles or imperfections.

Disadvantages of Shooting In Front Light

Front light is called flat light because it can be considered boring, or uninteresting, due to the lack of contrast it creates. 

The Second Type of Light in Photography: Side Light (aka Directional Light)

Side Light, sometimes referred to as directional light, happens when the light in an image is coming from one direction.  The light source is to the side of both your subject and your camera.

This often happens indoors when the light is coming in from a window and hitting your subject on only one side, while the other side of your subject has little or no light falling on it and is in shadow.

In these examples you can see clearly that the light was coming from one direction – from the window:

In the photo below, notice how the right side (camera left) of his face is bright and the left side (camera right) has more shadows.

Same here – the window to her right casts light on one side of her face, while her left side, as well as parts of the room further from the window, fall into shadow.

Advantages of Shooting in Side Light

Side light adds dimension, depth, and interest to your images because it creates contrast between light and shadow.

Photos with directional lighting can be great candidates for editing in black and white.  The contrast helps ensure that your black and white images won’t look “flat.”

Disadvantages of Shooting In Side Light

Side lighting can accentuate imperfections in the skin.

Also, it’s not easy to get a properly exposed photo in directional light unless you know how to control your camera settings. Thus, it can be more challenging for beginners.

Tips For Shooting In Side Light

Shooting in manual mode and using spot metering (a camera setting that tells your camera to read the light from a small, pinpointed portion of the scene, rather than the entire scene) works best. 

Because of the differences in light and shadow throughout the scene your camera will have a hard time getting proper exposure in auto mode. 

When you tell your camera to expose for the bright areas of the scene, the dark areas will fall away into shadow.  This is one of my favorite things about shooting in manual mode – being able to harness the light in interesting ways.

If your subject is looking at the camera try to position them at a 45 degree angle to the light source (the window). This will ensure that you get good “catchlights” (reflections) in the eyes, which will bring the photo to life.  If they face away from the light source, their eyes will look “dead.”

Look at this photo again and notice the catchlights in the eyes:

The Third Type of Light in Photography: Back Light

When your photo is lit from behind your subject, this is called backlight, or backlighting.

Advantages of Shooting in Back Light

Backlight is my personal favorite!  I love the magical quality it can bring to an image. 

You can capture beautiful sun flares and sparkly background light that make your images stand out.  I incorporate backlight in my images every time I get the chance!

natural light in photography

natural light in photography

types of natural light photography

Backlight and front light can be combined to light your subject on both sides, giving you a beautiful portrait with magical back light.

The image below was taken when the sun was getting low.  My subject is lit from the front with light coming from an area of open sky in front of her AND by the sunset light behind her:

natural light in photography

Disadvantages of Shooting In Back Light

Like side lighting, it’s nearly impossible to get a properly exposed photo in back lighting unless you know how to control your camera settings. Thus, it can be more challenging for beginners.  Getting your camera to focus in backlight also becomes more challenging.

Tips For Shooting In Back Light

Shooting in manual mode and using spot metering works best so you can tell your camera to expose for your subject and not the sun or other bright light in the scene.

Shooting at a wide aperture produces lovely round bokeh when the sun is filtered through leaves or other objects that partially block the light.  Bokeh (BOH-kə) is the term used to describe how a lens renders out of focus points of light.

types of light in photography

It’s best not to shoot directly into the sun because it can overpower an image with haze, not to mention hurt your eyes.

The photo below is “hazy.”  It lacks contrast due to how the sun was shining into my lens.  Changing your angle slightly so the sun isn’t shining directly into your lens can give you a better result.

types of natural light photography

Or, you can block the sun with your subject so it’s not shining directly into your lens.  If I’d gotten down lower so the sun was blocked by one of the boys the image would have been less hazy.

Using a lens hood can also make it easier to shoot in back light.  It will help you grab focus and avoid too much lens flare or haze.

There’s A Lot To Learn About Light!

This post is a work in progress.  I’ll be adding to it over the coming weeks with information on the quality of light and lots of tips for finding and shooting in different types of light.

Be sure to Pin This Post to your photography board so you can come back for updates:

How To Get Super Sharp Focus In Your Photos

How To Get Super Sharp Focus In Your Photos

Inside: Struggle with blurry photos? Check out these 7 tips for sharp focus in your photos.

Disclaimer: This contains affiliate links and any purchases made through such links will result in a small commission for me at no extra cost for you. I only recommend tools and resources I use and love!

7 Tips for Sharp Focus In Your Photos

I call it “download disappointment.”  You may know the feeling.

You’ve taken a set of photos you love.  Your child smiled and looked right at the camera and you captured a beautiful, natural expression. Not an easy feat!

You can’t wait to get the photos off your camera and share them with the world.

But once you download your photos to your computer you realize they look blurry or a bit out of focus.  Or maybe your child looks out of focus but the tree behind her looks sharp.

So discouraging! 

{Ask me how I know}

Ready to give up on your digital camera?  Not so fast!

Let’s troubleshoot and help you get the sharp focus you want in your photos.

Tip 1: Always Zoom In To Check For Sharp Focus

After you’ve taken a few photos, zoom in on the LCD screen on the back of your camera to check for sharp focus.  If it’s not sharp, you’ll know you need to make some adjustments.

Depress the image review button on the back of your camera (it looks like an arrow), then depress the + button to zoom in and check for sharp focus:

Tip 2: Fast Shutter Speed = Sharp Focus

If you’re shooting in manual or a semi-manual mode make sure your shutter speed is set to 1/125 or faster.  A shutter speed any slower than this will yield blurry photos.

A faster shutter speed, like 1/500 or 1/1000 will freeze motion in your photos.

When you photograph children I recommend a shutter speed of at least 1/500 for sharp photos.

Here’s an example: as the flower in the photo below blew in the wind I froze its motion and captured it in sharp focus with a fast shutter speed.

sharp focus

Another important tip: be sure to set your shutter speed higher than the length of your lens.

For example, if you have a 200 mm telephoto lens, your minimum shutter speed should be 1/200.

If you need help understanding shutter speed and your other camera settings be sure to check out How To Use Your DSLR Camera.

Tip 3: Choose Your Own Focal Point

Unless you change your focus mode, by default your camera will be set to attempt to detect where it should focus.  This produces inconsistent results.

But you’re smarter than your camera!  Your camera doesn’t know what you’re trying to photograph.  Only you know which part of your image you want in sharp focus.

I recommend changing your camera to single point focus mode.  This enables you to choose your focal point and place it over your subject.

Check out this post to learn how to switch to single point focus.

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Tip 4: Use Continuous Focus Mode 

I used Continuous Focus Mode on the image below to capture my daughter in sharp focus as she twirled around on the beach.  I use this mode 95% of the time when photographing my children.

how to take your own family photos

Continuous focus mode will help you achieve sharp focus when you photograph moving subjects.

Camera manufacturers give this camera setting different names:

On Nikon, Sony and Fuji cameras, it’s called AF-C.

On Canon cameras, it’s called Al Servo AF.  

Here’s how your camera’s focus system works:

your camera focuses when you partially depress the shutter button (the button you use to snap the photo).

With Continuous Focus Mode, as long as you keep the shutter button partially depressed it will continue to focus and refocus until you press it all the way down to take the photo.

Always use this mode for moving subjects.

Here’s what happens when you don’t use Continuous Focus Mode: imagine your child walking (or perhaps running!) toward your camera.  If you lock focus on your child, then take the photo one second later, your camera will lose focus because your child continued moving after it locked focus.

But in Continuous Focus Mode the camera will continue to focus until you take the photo, so it’s better able to capture sharp focus as your subject moves.

Check your camera manual to find out how to change your camera to Continuous Focus Mode.

Tip 5: Look For A Point of Contrast

Your camera always looks for a point of contrast it can use to grab focus.

On a face, for example, your camera wouldn’t be able to grab focus on the cheek but could grab focus on the eye because its distinct from all the skin around in color and brightness.

When you choose your own focal point as recommended above make sure you toggle it to a point of contrast.

For example, when I photographed this piece of pottery I placed my focal point over the potter’s mark.  The dark edges around the mark provided a point of contrast for my camera to grab focus.

When I tried to focus on other parts of the pottery piece my camera struggled to find focus.  If I’d taken the photo then, it would have come out blurry. 

Tip 5: Hold Your Breath and Lock Your Elbows 

When you hand-hold your camera (vs. when you use a tripod) blurry photos are more likely due to the movement of your body and hands.  This is known as “camera shake.”

To minimize this, think of yourself as a human tripod.  Lock your elbows against your body, take in a breath and hold it before you press the shutter button.  

If you’re standing, plant your feet firmly on the ground or lean against something, like a wall, to steady yourself.

This can make a big difference!  You’ll increase your chance of capturing sharp photos when your body is steady. 

Give it a try!

Tip 6: Raise Your f/stop Setting 

Your f/stop (or aperture) setting determines how wide or narrow your photo’s “depth of field” will be.  Depth of field is the vertical “sliver” of the image that’s in focus as illustrated below:

sharp focus

Try raising your f/stop number a bit so you’ll have a larger “slice” of your image in focus.  This provides more wiggle room for getting all the important parts of your image in focus.

When you photograph groups of people a larger depth of field is vital to getting everyone in sharp focus. 

how to take your own family photos

Test out your lens.  Most lenses have a “sweet spot” in terms of aperture where your photos will come out with sharp focus. 

Take a series of photos of the same subject at different aperture settings to find the f/stop setting that consistently yields sharp focus for your lens.

For more on f/stop and depth of field check out How To Decide What Aperture To Use.

Tip 7: Calibrate Your Lens

If you’ve tried all the tips above and you’re still struggling to get sharp focus, I recommend you check your lens for front or back focus problems.

For various reasons, a lens’ focus may be off.  Its point of focus may fall either in front of (front focus) or behind (back focus) the focal point.

No amount of camera skill can solve this problem because it lies in the lens.  The answer is lens calibration.

Lens calibration is needed every time you get a new lens and it may be needed periodically because it can shift over time.

Here’s an article with instructions on lens calibration.

I also recommend an internet search for “how to calibrate lens on (your camera model).  You’ll turn up a wealth of tutorials on YouTube.

I’ve also had success with the “Dot Tune” lens calibration method.  You can find this on YouTube as well.

Remember…

Always zoom in on your LCD after you take a photo to check your focus.  If you don’t know your photo isn’t in focus you won’t be able to troubleshoot.

And no need to give up on your DSLR – with these troubleshooting tips you’ll be on your way to beautiful, sharp photos you’ll want to share with the world.

Do Photography Terms Sound Like a Foreign Language?  Let Me Simplify It For You:

5 Sure-Fire Tips For A Great DIY Photo Shoot

5 Sure-Fire Tips For A Great DIY Photo Shoot

Inside: Want to take your own family photos this year?  Check out these 5 tips for a great DIY photo shoot.

Disclaimer: This contains affiliate links and any purchases made through such links will result in a small commission for me (at no extra cost for you). I only recommend tools and resources I use and love!

5 Tips For A Great DIY Photo Shoot

Have you ever tried to take your own family photos?   

Maybe you tried it once but vowed “never again!” because the effort of getting everyone dressed up, convincing (bribing?) the kids to cooperate and getting everyone to “look at the camera!” wasn’t worth the less than stellar results?

I’ve been there, but I believe it’s so important to take a family photo each year. 

I look back on each family photo we’ve taken over the years – at how much my kids have grown – how they’ve gained inches and lost baby fat, gone from child to teen (!) – and I’m so grateful I took the time to take a photo with all of us together each year.

We like to take a family photo each time we go on vacation. My kids have come to expect it, and it’s easier to fit in when we’re on a more relaxed schedule.

Plus, the locations are more interesting and bring back fond memories of where we’ve been as a family.

We now have several DIY family photoshoots under our belt. Based on my experience, I’d like to offer you 5 tips for a successful DIY photoshoot. 

Make sure you don’t miss a step! Download my FREE DIY Photoshoot Checklist for your own DIY Photos.  Get it HERE.

DIY Photo Shoot Tip 1: Coordinate, Don’t Match

Coordinate your outfits without being too “matchy.”  This holds true for any photoshoot, but I try to treat a DIY photoshoot like any other.

Whatever you do, don’t dress everyone in the same color, like all black t-shirts and jeans.

Trust me – Don’t. Do. It.

Here are some great tips for choosing your outfits. 

DIY Photo Shoot Tip 2: Shoot In “Good Light”

DIY Photo Shoot

Plan your shoot for a time of day when the light is less harsh.  Early in the morning or in the late afternoon when the sun is lower will give you the best results.

My favorite time to shoot is during the golden hour, in the last hour of the day before the sun goes down.

If you need to shoot in the middle of the day be sure to find some open shade – an area under a porch roof or beside a building where you’re shaded from direct sun but facing toward the light.

Open shade provides soft, flattering light and can be great for family photos.

Check out the SOL App for help as you plan the best time for your shoot.

DIY Photoshoot Tip 3: Use A Tripod

how to take your own family photos

Must you use a tripod?  I say yes.

I’ve tried it without a tripod and it’s much harder. 

If you’re indoors you may be able to use a table or chair for your camera, but outdoors you’re unlikely to find a stable surface at the right height.

Plus, it’s SO MUCH EASIER to position the camera at the right angle with a tripod.  I’ve tried it without a tripod and ended up with cut off heads or photos so crooked I had to trash them!

And when I’ve had someone around to the press the shutter for me I composed the shot first the way I wanted it with the tripod.  So when Grandpa presses the shutter I’m not worried about whether he’s changed the composition or cut off anyone’s head!

I recommend searching for a used tripod at KEH.com.  I often find great deals on used gear there!

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DIY Photoshoot Tip 4: Use Self-Timer Mode and Turn Off Auto Focus

how to take your own family photos

Note: We took this photo spur of the moment in our yard.  Our outfits aren’t coordinated, but we took it on my husband’s birthday, so I love it.  Capture memories, even if they’re not perfect!

If you don’t have grandpa (or grandma, or a random stranger walking by) around to press the shutter button, here’s how you pull this off, step-by-step:

Step 1: Find the Self-Timer Function on Your Camera

Most cameras have a self-timer feature. Look for a symbol on your camera that looks like a little clock. 

On some cameras, it may be a button you push.  On mine, I rotate the command dial to the timer mode, as shown below. 

But don’t put it on timer mode yet!  Take note of how it’s done on your camera.

Next, go into your camera menu and set a time interval between shots.

Consult your camera’s manual to find out how to access the interval timer function. (Not all cameras have this feature).

I recommend setting it to take 9 shots per set at one shot per second.  I also tell the camera to delay for 10 seconds (self-timer delay) so I have time to get in the shot.

Note: If your camera doesn’t have an interval timer or won’t take more than one shot per timed delay, you may need to use a remote trigger to save you from running back to the camera to press the button again for every shot. These are often camera-model specific, so make sure any remote trigger you buy is compatible with your camera.

You may also want to check out the Canon Camera Connect App or a Nikon Remote Trigger App.

Step 2: Set Up Your Shot

Set up your tripod and get one person (I recommend an adult) to stand where you want to take the photo. 

Compose your image “loosely” (known as “shooting loose”), which means step back far enough so you won’t cut off any limbs or body parts around the edges of the image.

You can always crop it closer later when you edit the image but it’s better to give yourself some space while taking the photo.

Step 3: Choose Your Camera Settings

Use your adult model to get your camera settings ready so your image will be properly exposed.

If you need help understanding your camera settings check out my FREE Photography Cheat Sheet and Quick Start Guide for Beginners.

Also be sure to check out How To Use Your DSLR Camera.

Here are my recommendations:

Keep your ISO setting as low as possible to avoid noise.

Set your shutter speed at 1/125 minimum (or faster if possible) to avoid motion blur.

For a group photo set your aperture to f/4 or f/5.6 to ensure everyone in the group is in focus.

Pro tip: Set up your photo in a location where there’s a good bit of distance between your subjects and the background behind them.  The greater the distance, the blurrier your background will be.

Step 4: Set Your Focus, Then TURN OFF AUTOFOCUS

Use your adult model to set your focus.  Place your focal point over his or her face and get the image in focus.  Take a test shot and zoom in on the back of your camera to make sure it’s in focus.

Then – DON’T MISS THIS CRUCIAL STEP – turn off your camera’s autofocus.

On most cameras, to turn off autofocus you toggle the switch on the lens to manual focus, as shown above.

Here’s why you must remember to turn off autofocus:

In autofocus mode the camera will refocus for each shot.  Without a person behind the camera to make adjustments as people move, your photos will come out blurry.

But as long as you turn off autofocus after you’ve set your focus, your photo should be sharp.

Step 5: Get Everyone In the Frame

Now it’s time to call the kids in!  Have them gather around your model.  Take a look through your viewfinder and make sure everyone’s in the shot and no one’s limbs are chopped off around the edges of the viewfinder.

If you have to make adjustments be sure to turn autofocus back on and set your focus again.

Be sure to leave room for yourself!  “Shooting loose,” as mentioned above, will help.

Once everyone’s in place and you’ve set your focus and turned autofocus off, turn your camera to self-timer mode and press the shutter.

You should have 10 seconds to get into the shot.  Or if you’re using a remote, wait until you get in the shot, then press your remote trigger.

You’ll know it’s working when you see the self-timer light blinking.

DIY Photoshoot Tip 5: Get Close and Interact!

how to take your own family photos

Make sure everyone looks “connected” in your photo.  Ask every person to touch someone else and get as close as you can.

You can’t get too close!  Squish your heads and bodies together so there’s not much space between you. 

And remember, your photos will be better if you interact.

Have someone tell a funny joke

Tell everyone to “get closer” and “closer” and “closer!”

Tell everyone to squish their ears together or put their arms around each other.

We love the tickle fight method.  We tickle the kids or ask everyone to tickle someone else to get laughs and smiles.

It works pretty well!

Keep It Short and Have Fun!

Kids will tolerate only so much so keep your DIY Photo Shoot short.  Have fun and keep the outtakes.

Those can be the most fun of all!

Don’t let another year pass without a family photo.  Grab your tripod, find a pretty spot and have fun with your own DIY Photo Shoot!

Don’t miss a step! Download my FREE DIY Photoshoot Checklist and take it with you when you’re out taking your own DIY Photos.  Get it HERE.

How To Capture and Edit an Indoor Photo In Direct Light

How To Capture and Edit an Indoor Photo In Direct Light

Disclaimer: This contains affiliate links and any purchases made through such links will result in a small commission for me (at no extra cost for you). I only recommend tools and resources I use and love!

Ever wish you could get a peek behind the lens of another photographer and watch them work?

Here’s your chance!  In this “How To Capture And Edit” series I provide a look into my shooting and editing process behind a particular image and share helpful how-to’s.

Shot with Canon 5D III and 35 mm 1.4 lens. Camera Settings: ISO 1250, f/3.5, SS 1/640

My husband arrived home from work in the early evening and my daughter ran to him and jumped into his arms for a hug.

{Heart Melts}

I raced for my camera.

The overhead lights were off and I noticed how my husband and daughter were standing in a pocket of bright light shining in from the window.

I knew if I set my camera to expose for the bright, direct light shining in on them from the window the rest of the scene would be rendered darker, putting them in the “spotlight.”

If you don’t understand the term “expose” check out this post: How To Use Your DSLR Camera.

Here’s the SOOC (straight out of camera) photo: 

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Editing Tips

I edited this image 100% in Lightroom, It needed a bit of work to bring it in line with the “spotlight” vision I had in mind when I shot the image.

Lightroom is the perfect photo editing program for beginners.  It allows you to make simple adjustments to your photos that make a HUGE difference in your images without breaking the bank.

Check out the editing video below:

How To Capture and Edit a Beach Silhouette

How To Capture and Edit a Beach Silhouette

Disclaimer: This contains affiliate links and any purchases made through such links will result in a small commission for me (at no extra cost for you). I only recommend tools and resources I use and love!

Ever wish you could get a peek behind the lens of another photographer and watch them work?

Here’s your chance!  In this “How To Capture And Edit” series I provide a look into my shooting and editing process behind a particular image and share helpful how-to’s.

Shot with Canon 5D III and 35 mm 1.4 lens. Camera Settings: ISO 200, f/16, SS 1/320

When I saw this log on the beach my heart beat a little faster because I knew it would make the perfect location for a great silhouette shot.

The sky behind the log was unobstructed by trees or buildings, and placing my subject on the log would separate him from the ground and allow me to capture the outline of his entire body.

As the sun sank toward the horizon I got down low on the sand on my stomach (yes, I got dirty!).  I raised myself slightly so that just a bit of the sun was peeking out above the log.

I set my exposure for the sky so my subject would be thrown into shadow and I chose a narrow aperture of f/16 in order to give the sun a starburst effect.

(If you don’t understand the term exposure this page may help: How To Use Your DSLR Camera).

Here’s the SOOC (straight out of camera) photo: 

Oops, a little crooked!  Happens all the time.  Thankfully that’s an easy fix with the crop tool in Lightroom.

Here’s how I cropped it:

I used the Rule of Thirds grid and cropped it so that my photo was comprised of 1/3 land and 2/3 sky, and placed my subject along the right third of the image.

He was walking so I made sure there was space in front of him in the direction he was heading. 

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Editing Tips

The edit on this photo was simple, done 100% in Lightroom.  Check out the video below for a walkthrough of this simple edit.  Lightroom is the perfect photo editing program for beginners.  It allows you to make simple adjustments to your photos that make a HUGE difference!

Do Photography Terms Feel Confusing and Overwhelming To You?  If So, Don’t Miss This: 

How I Got The Shot

How I Got The Shot

Disclaimer: This contains affiliate links and any purchases made through such links will result in a small commission for me (at no extra cost for you). I only recommend tools and resources I use and love!

Ever wish you could get a peek behind the lens of another photographer and watch them work?

That’s how I feel when I see a photo I admire.

In my “How I Got The Shot” series I provide a look into my thought process behind a particular image and share helpful tips for shooting and editing.

Shot with Canon 5D III and 35 mm 1.4 lens. Camera Settings: ISO 1600, f/3.2, SS 1/500

9 times out of 10 it’s the light that motivates me to grab my DSLR to capture a moment.  Well, the light plus someone I love.

I saw the light from the window behind my daughter, but I also saw the shadows to the right of her and thought I’d be able to use the shadows and the reflection on the floor to frame her and lead the eye toward her. 

I set my exposure on my daughter but slightly underexposed the photo on purpose because I knew the highlights from the window were going to be very bright.  I also hoped underexposing would give me darker shadow areas. 

I got down low in order to capture the floor and the reflection as part of the shot.  This helps draw the eye toward her. 

Here’s the SOOC (straight out of camera) photo: 

I shot it a wee bit crooked so I straightened it with a crop.  I cropped out the chair on the left in order to remove distractions and bring the focus in on the subject.  I also placed the subject along the rule of thirds line.

Editing Tips

The overall temperature of the image was too warm, so I lowered the temperature slider.

One factor when I’m shooting in this room of my home is the color of the walls.  When I repaint I’m going to tone down the yellow!

Color casts from walls are a common challenge, but there are ways to counteract that problem in Lightroom.  My first step in dealing with that was to lower the overall temperature.

I also lowered the highlights slider because I felt the brightness of the light coming in from the window was distracting.

Because I shot the image at ISO 1600 I had some noise in the shadow areas and on my subject so I raised the Luminance slider under the Detail panel to 15.

As you can see in the SOOC image, the shadow areas weren’t anywhere near as dark as I wanted them to be (and there was a roll of fabric leaning against the door!), so I used th graduated filter in Lightroom to bring the shadows and the exposure down in those darker areas of the image.

I then took the image into Photoshop to make a few final adjustments:

I used a Color Balance adjustment layer to pull more yellow out of the image.  I brushed that layer onto the white areas of the walls to make the whites look more white.

I also used the Color Balance adjustment layer to cool my subject (she was a little yellow, too).

Back in Lightroom, I used a radial filter to raise the exposure and contrast on my subject just a bit.  And I was done!

The vision in my mind’s eye was brought to life through the power of Lightroom and a little Photoshop!

If you’re a visual learner, you can watch me edit some of my favorite images HERE.