Over in Facebookland I’m in a couple of groups of crafters and makers, people that are selling on sites such as Etsy or Not On The High Street, and every day I see several posts from people that are waiting for a sunny day to take their photographs. At first I tried to reply to some and tell them that you don’t always need sun, in fact in many cases you are better off without sunshine, but there were so many that in the end I gave up and decided to write a blog post instead!
Unless you have the teeniest windows and tall buildings or trees all around your home the chances are that there may well be enough light for photography even on a dull day, you just need to learn to see it. If you want to learn to see it then you need to start by going looking for it.
Where’s the best place to look? Well you may as well start with the windows. It sounds obvious but sometimes we are so concerned with finding the space to set up our products and props that we forget that right next to the windows is where all the light is. Start by placing something with a good shape and some texture very close to the window, you could use your own products but if you make something small like jewellery it will be easier to use a larger object while you look for light. Make sure the window is to one side of your item and take a look at the shadows that are on the other side. If the shadows are dark with a definite edge to them you have hard light. This is the sort of light that sunshine gives, it doesn’t work for product photography because we lose too much of the detail in the shadows. As you move further from the window you will see the shadows get lighter and their edges less defined, this sort of light is soft light and this is the type we are looking for. Soft shadows help to show shape and texture.
If your windows are very tiny and there isn’t enough light why not try in a doorway? Open the door to let in as much light as possible and set up your products just inside the door, as long as you don’t have sunshine chances are you will have some lovely soft light.
If you’ve tried all your windows and doorways and still don’t have enough light try using a reflector, its surprising how much light they can add. You can make your own by wrapping tin foil around card but they aren’t expensive to buy. The bigger the reflector the more light they will bounce back so avoid buying the smallest size.
And finally, get out your camera’s instruction book and find the “exposure compensation” button. Increasing the exposure might be all you need to do to turn a dull day brighter! If your shutter speed is then too slow for a sharp image try using a tripod.
I started this post with a picture of tulips for a reason. Its taken on a VERY dull day, it was grey, miserable and drizzling outside but I knew that the light from the window (just above the fake brick wall) would pick out the tops of the flowers and look lovely, all I needed was a little exposure compensation!
If you are in the North West our next Product Photography Workshop is taking place on 14th March, it’s a fantastic day packed full of information on everything from camera skills to styling, lighting and more. It’s in a lovely informal setting and is also a great opportunity to get together with other creative business owners.
For full details please CLICK HERE.