Con­trol light­ing with­out a stu­dio by al­ter­ing shut­ter speed, f-stop and ISO to pro­duce a fo­cused light ef­fect

Digital Photograper - - Contents -

Nat­u­ral light may be harder to con­trol than stu­dio light­ing, but there’s still a way to shape the light and con­trol where it spreads within the frame. Find out how in this shoot­ing tu­to­rial

One of the ad­van­tages of shoot­ing in a stu­dio is that the pho­tog­ra­pher has full con­trol over the in­ten­sity, di­rec­tion and spread of light, al­low­ing easy man­age­ment of back­ground de­tail. Fur­ther­more, in a stu­dio set­ting, seam­less back­grounds can be used to pro­duce a clean, dis­trac­tion-free en­vi­ron­ment, ideal for por­traits or still life sub­jects. There are great ben­e­fits of nat­u­ral light how­ever – it is soft, di­rec­tional and freely avail­able. It there­fore pays to be able to bring stu­dio-like ef­fects


PICK A SUB­JECT First you need to se­lect a spec­i­men that is well lit by nat­u­ral day­light. Ide­ally the back­ground will be more shaded, so that there is al­ready con­trast – for ex­am­ple, patches of light in wood­land are per­fect for this style of shoot­ing.


SWITCH TO MAN­UAL MODE Set your cam­era to Man­ual and dial in the set­tings cal­cu­lated in step 3. This will guar­an­tee you have full con­trol over the bright­ness of your shot and that ex­po­sure won’t change un­ex­pect­edly as you com­pose. out­side. The tech­nique dis­cussed here is a sim­ple method of shap­ing light, by con­trol­ling where it spreads within the frame. This is done by shoot­ing in di­rect sun­light (slightly dif­fused by cloud cover where fea­si­ble) and us­ing ex­po­sure con­trols to elim­i­nate am­bi­ent light as much as pos­si­ble. This gen­er­ates a high-con­trast, un­der­ex­posed look, which ap­prox­i­mates the ap­pear­ance pro­duced us­ing strobe lights and a black back­ground. Di­rect sun­light is best as the in­ten­sity will widen the ex­po­sure dif­fer­ences be­tween the il­lu­mi­nated


SE­LECT APER­TURE AND ISO Choose an ap­pro­pri­ate ini­tial aper­ture for your sub­ject, start­ing around f11. En­sure that you use the low­est ISO set­ting avail­able to min­imise am­bi­ent light cap­ture, gen­er­at­ing in­creased back­ground con­trast.


IN­CREASE SHUT­TER SPEED Next shorten your ex­po­sure by around one stop to un­der­ex­pose the back­ground and ren­der it solid black – if your me­tered ex­po­sure was 1/125sec, in­crease this to 1/250sec etc. Leave f-stop and ISO fixed for now. and shaded ar­eas of the scene. Try shoot­ing in the mid-af­ter­noon as this will place the sun high in the sky, but with some di­rec­tion in the light­ing. Pre­cise me­ter­ing will en­sure that no high­light de­tail is lost and that the sub­ject it­self does not seem un­der­ex­posed – only shaded ar­eas will be no­tice­ably dark­ened.


ME­TER FROM THE HIGH­LIGHTS Use Spot me­ter­ing mode and place your AF point over the bright­est part of your sub­ject, to cal­cu­late ex­po­sure from the high­lights. Take note of the ex­po­sure set­tings that any of the P, A or S modes sug­gest.


CUS­TOMISE SET­TINGS Shoot and re­view your im­age. If you need a darker back­ground, in­crease ex­po­sure fur­ther in half­stop in­cre­ments un­til you have a seam­less back­ground ef­fect or al­ter­na­tively, se­lect a higher f-num­ber.


DIS­TRACT­ING DE­TAIL In this im­age the back­ground is re­ceiv­ing too much light, as the frame lacks con­trast – it ap­pears too ‘busy’ and de­tracts from the in­tended sub­ject

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