Friday, August 12, 2011

Natural Window Light

August 12, 2011

Natural Window Light 
(and Some Attention to Detail)

     I mentioned a few days ago that I would talk about using daylight to photograph toys. So today's instalment is just about that. I'll also talk about paying attention to detail, which I'll explain later.

     I'm using skylight and not direct sunlight. The reason for this is that the indirect lighting is softer and has less contrast than direct sunlight. I guess I'll talk about direct sunlight in another instalment.

Here's our sunroom.
I just realized a mistake. I set my camera for daylight, but notice the tint of the blue curtain!
I should have did a custom white balance. That's where you place a white car in the photo, and set your camera to "white balance" for the light present.

Here are some different reflectors that I use to:
1. Fill in shadows
2. Create highlights (bright shine) to my small toys

The matt silver reflector is made by me. Matt is less-reflective and subtler than the shiny silver reflector. Sometimes just a "tinge" of fill light or a very soft reflection is better than the shinier one. 

The materials are shiny silver reflectors, Foamcore, and an aerosol spray adhesive that you may buy at an art store. 

Foamcore is simply flat sheets of styrofoam that have white cardboard on both sides. If the cost is too much, then you can use corrugated cardboard as the backing, and rubber cement with a brush applicator.
Make sure to apply the glue evenly, and then use a brush or plastic scraper to flatten the reflector sheet to the Foamcore or corrugated cardboard.

Notice the blue tint in the reflectors. They're from the blue tinted shade.

   The very shiny reflectors are cardboards that come with smoked salmon which 
is on my top 20 favourite foods. Notice that 1 side is silver, and the other is gold. Most of the time I use a white or silver reflector. However, if I was to photograph gold objects.then a gold reflector would create the proper tone or colour of reflection. White is acceptable, but not silver since the silver would create silver reflections on a gold surface.

Photo # 1
Just the straightforward skylight

Photo # 2
A reflector off to the side adds:
a. Detail to the shadow
b. Creates a nice highlight

Photo # 3
1 Reflector on top, with the other reflector off to the side
a. The # 1 reflector to the side create the highlight and fills in the shadows
b. the # 2 overhead reflector creates a small highlight

Photo # 1
Daylight only

Photo # 2
Daylight and reflector off to the side

Photo # 3
Daylight and side reflector and back reflector

Photo # 4
Same as # 3, but reflector is not showing now

Photo # 5
All 3 reflectors in the photo*
*This is a major error!
One never hand holds a reflector! 

1. You can't see the reflection if you're off to the side holding a reflector
2. You will create vibration by having the reflector sitting on the table while you hold it.

A before and after set of photos

Some Attention to Detail Notes

I'll introduce "attention to Detail" gradually since it's not a topic for everyone. This is one of the factors that makes a professional photographer what he or she is. I'm sure some of you will undoubtedly say- "Well I can do that in Photoshop". That's true, but remember that takes time, and to a photographer time is money!

So what attention to detail am I doing above? 
The foundation that the car is sitting on is a place matt for eating in our sunroom/eating room.
Those tiny spots on the wood are food crumbs.

In this pair of photos, the difference is quite obvious.
Again, some of you may disagree with my choice, but the darker place matt is better.

Being darker, the car presents itself better that the lighter place matt.


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