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The Elements of Effective Photographs

Changing and replicating natural light


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The Elements of Effective Photographs

with Natalie Fobes

Video: Changing and replicating natural light

I'm from Seattle, where we have consistent light year round: three months of bright sunshine and nine months of flat gray. It's a challenge to get the beautiful sunlight streaming through the window in December, but with a little bit of light know-how, you can create that dazzling sunshine. Put your main light outside the window, adjust your light, flash, or reflector to fill the subject, and voila! You have a sunny day. Remember the photographs we took in the last movie of Margo near a sunlit window? Look how they compare to photographs taken of her when using our artificial sunlight setup, or maybe you want to recreate the natural light of a lamp.

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The Elements of Effective Photographs
1h 36m Beginner Aug 30, 2011

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In this course, Pulitzer-nominated photographer Natalie Fobes takes viewers into the studio and on location to explore the many elements that combine to make an effective photo.

The course explores compositional elements that guide a viewer's eye, including the rule of thirds; leading lines, patterns, and curves; and depth of field. Natalie then details the roles of color and light in a photo. She shows how to work with the natural light in a room or outdoor location, and how to enhance it using reflectors, newspapers, a T-shirt, or whatever might be handy. She also shows some simple indoor lighting setups that can replicate the look of natural light.

The course continues with a look at movement and how a photographer can convey a sense of motion by blurring part of the image or freezing a fast-moving subject. Next, Natalie explores the concepts of peak action and the decisive moment—those split seconds that capture the essence or emotion of a subject or scene. The course wraps up with a discussion of the roles of planning and research in creating effective photos.

Subjects:
Photography Photography Foundations
Author:
Natalie Fobes

Changing and replicating natural light

I'm from Seattle, where we have consistent light year round: three months of bright sunshine and nine months of flat gray. It's a challenge to get the beautiful sunlight streaming through the window in December, but with a little bit of light know-how, you can create that dazzling sunshine. Put your main light outside the window, adjust your light, flash, or reflector to fill the subject, and voila! You have a sunny day. Remember the photographs we took in the last movie of Margo near a sunlit window? Look how they compare to photographs taken of her when using our artificial sunlight setup, or maybe you want to recreate the natural light of a lamp.

Most bulbs are pretty dim in our cameras. You can increase your ISO, risking a little bit of noise, or replace the bulbs with brighter ones for the duration of the shoot. I often use a slaved flash in lamps. I love this equipment. It's a flash with a sensor that is triggered when another flash is set off. I simply put it in the lamp, take an exposure reading, get my subject in position, and trigger it with an on-camera flash bounced off the ceiling. Check this out.

The settings on my on-camera flash are determined by how much I want it to fill the scene. When blending natural light in flash, the natural light determines the settings on your flash. I used this piece of equipment to illuminate a cross in a chapel in Mexico's Copper Canyon. I had beautiful light coming in from the window. I had plenty of exposure for the room, but the cross was lost in the shadows. So I put my slave flash behind it and popped on an on-camera flash to trigger it, and the result was an image where the cross dominated the scene.

In a thatched roof hut in Guatemala, I wanted to recreate the glow of a cooking fire as a woman made tortillas. The hut was so dark I could hardly see to focus. I put an orange gel over the slave and triggered it with my on-camera flash. Now the light looks like it's coming from the fire. My goal in almost all of my lighting is to create beautiful and believable light that enforces the message I want to create in my photographs.

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