When Lighting Makes or Breaks a Photo

When Lighting Makes or Breaks a Photo

When lighting is unintentionally strong it can overpower a photo and make the subject appear washed out. This is a problem that can sneak into all types of photography; landscapes suddenly appear uncomfortably bright or portraits lose their defining features if the lighting is too strong.

Try taking outdoor or landscape photos at a different time of day when the natural light is softer – this may even change the shadows in your photo and make for a more interesting composition. If the natural light you’re using is coming through a gap or a window then draping a thin, translucent fabric over it may ease the harshness of the light a little. Just be careful not to go too far the other way!

In artificial light, using the space around you is key. Turning your camera’s flash against a wall can lessen the intensity and diffuse some of the light and result in a more natural-looking photo. If that isn’t an option, then again placing a thin fabric such as a scarf in front of the flash can also have the same effect.

Amping up your lighting can be achieved by placing something around your composition that the light can bounce off – white card or sheets can disperse light well or be used to direct it towards your subject.

For both problems, angling your shot is crucial in a natural setting. In the blazing midday sun it makes no sense to aim your camera directly at the light, as the background will be bright and overexposed, whereas the foreground will lose all light and definition. Instead, shoot in a time and place with lower light and angle your shots to allow the light to fall on your subject in the most flattering way possible. Experimenting with light coming from above or below can dramatically transform your photos.