Get Tips on Lighting to Better Photograph People and Objects

From casual photos to professionals, the relationship between the photographer and the lighting spots is always a challenge.Learn techniques, settings and tricks to get good images even when light does not help.

The important thing is to test the possibilities of your equipment and use the ideal configuration for each click, since we can not always control the lighting of the environment where we are.

Learn how to use your camera’s manual focus for better clicks

Adjust sensitivity (ISO) in dark environments

In “easy” mode, the camera automatically increases the ISO sensitivity of the sensor to capture more detail of the image, according to ambient light.

But ideally you know the possibilities of your camera and use the ISO that allows you to capture images without loss of quality, because the higher the sensitivity, the greater the risk of getting noise in the image.

Remember that the higher the sensitivity, the greater the speed you can assign to the shutter, avoiding blurry images.

As we observed in the image above, with ISO 100 (a low sensitivity) the image was “shaken” because the camera needed more time to register the image and the model moved.On the other hand, the image captured with ISO 6400 (a high sensitivity) the camera recorded the image very quickly (“frozen” image), but presented noise.In this situation it would be best to continue shooting with ISO sensitivity between 800 and 1600.

Ideal lighting for small objects

In order to obtain impeccable images of small objects with neutral backgrounds (white, black or colored), professionals use the “light tent”, also called “light tent” or “diffuser tent”.

The term “diffuser” is attributed by the fact that the sides and top are made of translucent material.This softens the light that enters the tent, illuminating the object more evenly, softening the shadows.

The smaller professional versions (30 x 30 x 30 cm) can be found from $ 100 , but improvising with materials with a cardboard box, you will not spend much.Using a cardboard box, fabric and ribbon, it is possible to build your own tent.In another example, the photographer used only a translucent white bucket.

In our subject on how to photograph objects that reflect , we teach some techniques to photograph this type of object without the reflection of the environment and the photographer interferes with the image.

Using flash in macro photos

Anyone who has tried to use the built-in flash of the camera in macro photos must have realized that the results are not anything cool.The equipment indicated for this situation is the ring flash.

Circular flash can be found from approximately $ 200, and more advanced versions cost more than $ 2,000.But it is also possible to improvise a diffuser that can help you get reasonable results.You should use translucent materials, make a hole to fit the lens, and the “ring” will distribute the light around the lens.

Improvising lighting with diffusers

The “softbox” is a professional equipment used in conjunction with reflectors (lamp) to illuminate objects and people.The softbox is like the frame of a lamp, with translucent fabric at the front to soften the light.And the reflector would be the electrical part, where the lamp fits.

Professionals use reflectors with softbox, attached to a tripod that allows adjustment of direction to height.If you wish to purchase this type of equipment, be aware that these parts are sold separately.

You can improvise a diffuser with a simple sheet of paper rolled up and secured with clips on a table lamp.

The luminaires with flexible arms are ideal for you to direct the light to where you want, and to photograph people, environments and objects as you wish.

In the example below, note that the projected shadow is much smoother when using the diffuser.In addition, the colors of the object are better portrayed, because the white areas provoked by the excess light lighten (something similar happens with faces).

Adjust flash power

When camera automatically adjusts flash power, usually the results do not please.This is one of the reasons why many people create some resistance to using flash.

Believe me, flash is your friend.It is possible to adjust its power to avoid the “scare face” and the formation of very strong shadows.The difference between the results using the wrong power and the ideal one is absurd.

The ambient light metering system in advanced cameras usually matches the flash power setting.But this is a matter of taste and perception of each person.If you are not using professional equipment and the environment is dark, there is no problem if the image gets a bit dark.No need to increase the intensity of the flash to the point of leaving people with a “scary face”.

Meet the flash diffusers

Flash is a very powerful light that promises to be useful for shooting environments and objects.Therefore, it may seem excessive when photographing people and objects when they are close.If decreasing the power of the flash is not enough, you can use the flash diffuser to smooth out its “side effects.”

There are models for compact cameras that have shoe, where the diffuser will be in front of the flash.It may seem awkward, but the results are worth it.

There are also diffuser models that fit the “pop-up” flash (the ones that open) of superzoom and DSLR cameras.These models can be found for about $ 70 .

“Homemade” models are very easy to do.You can use it from a simple sheet of paper, to translucent plastic packaging.With this type of accessory, the light is distributed to the environment and focuses less voraciously on nearby objects.

The amount of light that passes through the diffuser and “rebounds” by the environment will depend on the degree of transparency of the material.In the example above, a business card has been used, and as it is thicker, some of the light is filtered and much of it is scattered around the environment, capturing the scene without “overflowing” and “explosions” of illuminated spots.

In the example below, we used a diffuser with sulfite paper around the built-in flash.The difference in the image may be subtle, but with the diffuser we perceive more naturalness in the features.

Step by step to get a good picture under adverse conditions without appealing to the flash

This is a guide to getting good pictures in manual mode.

Step 1. Increase the ISO up to the sensitivity your camera can handle without generating “noise.”Some models support capturing ISO 3200 images with minimal noise.

Step 2. Set the speed to 1/50 s.This is a good speed to capture spontaneous moments, avoiding “shaky” images.

Step 3. Increase the aperture to maximum.Clear lenses such as the famous 50mm allows f / 1.8 aperture, but the background will be blurred.Evaluate whether or not the generated effect pleases you.If you prefer the clear background, use less openings.The most common DSLR lenses, 18 ~ 55 mm usually have a maximum aperture of f / 3.5.

Step 4. Test your image.

Step 5. If the image has become dark, you may slow down (running the risk of image blurring) or increase ISO sensitivity (running the risk of getting a noisy image).

Well, better to have a noisy image than “blurred”.If you change your mind, turn on the flash by adjusting its power to the lowest possible setting.

Create creative clicks

After learning a bit about these lighting tricks and setting up your equipment, try it out.Try playing back the “hostile environments” for photography and practice.

Simulate scaled-down scenes you’d like to click on, and test all of the settings indicated and not indicated by the automatic mode of your camera.

Question everything the easy mode tells you to do, and try to get similar results using different settings.Scene modes can also be good sources for analysis.See the differences in the modes of “fireworks,” “beach” and “snow” modes.

Note that different angles of the object relative to the point of illumination can result in different perceptions.In the example below, although the model maintains the same position and expression, each image “communicates” different feelings.Explore this concept in your next clicks!

It is through testing that you print each time your own style in photography, and to help you with this experimentation, we suggest you check out our tips on how to shoot the sunset , how to photograph stars and how to shoot with long exposure .

Important Tips

Professional photographic equipment will not fail to have its value.If you photograph professionally, have professional equipment.Customers may be surprised by “gambiarras” and improvised materials.

Do not use glues and adhesive tapes applied directly to the camera.You can jam moving parts and damage your equipment.

When using papers and plastics over bulbs and electrical materials, make sure they are not in direct contact.Lamps warm up and there is a risk of everything catching fire.

Search for external flash.The limitations of the built-in flash are analogous to the limitations of the “18 ~ 55mm lens of the kit”.In time, you realize that.Some even say “you can not do anything with the built-in flash”.It may seem exaggerated, but the external flash gives the photographer a totally different experience with light.And as everyone knows, light is an image.

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