Commercial Photography Lighting Tips
Photographs, in their most literal sense, are depictions of light; that's why photography lighting is so important for any photographer. Within this article, you will learn several basic photography tips that all professionals use to take the best shots.
Step 1 - Making the Most of Available Light
Your camera may have a built in flash, but that does not mean that you have to use it for every shot. Ensure that you are making the most out of all the available light in the room. The curtains should be opened fully and any blinds should allow as much light into the room as possible. The sun is always the best light source for a photograph because it has subtlety and creates a softer, more even tone. When taking photos without a flash you also do not have to worry about red eye.
Step 2 - Bouncing the Flash
If you are taking a photo at night and must use the flash, you should not aim it directly at the subject. By aiming it at someone you are concentrating all the light onto one area. The subject will often be blown out and the lighting uniform, creating the appearance of flatness and a generally static image. If the light is reflected off a surface such as a wall or a ceiling, it will not only illuminate a much bigger area, but will create a more dynamic range of tones as well and wrap the light around protruding surfaces. Built-in flashes don't normally allow this, so an external flash is always a better option if available.
If you do want to use your built in flash, make sure you buy a catch light clip. These clip over the flash and will direct the light evenly around the room. For a quick solution, putting scotch tape over a built-in flash that is washing out a subject helps to diffuse the light and reduce the strength in the process.
Step 3 - Syncing the Flash Properly
The flash must fire at the same time as the shutter opens for the best effect. The trouble is that there is often a shutter lag experienced with many digital SLR cameras. Read in your camera manual to find out the limitations, most of these cameras will only be able to sync at 1/250 of a second. Make sure that your shutter speed is slower than your sync speed as this will allow both the shutter and flash to be in sync.
Step 4 - Diffusers
If you are serious about taking professional photographs, you must make sure that you use some form of diffuser on your flashes. This will break up the light and ensure that it's not too harsh or severe. There are many forms of diffusers available including umbrellas, and soft boxes. It's actually possible to make your own soft box using some tracing paper and an old cardboard box.
Step 5 - Back Lighting
Back lights can create some unique and interesting effects; they create great highlights when photographing someone. Researching all of the different types of commercial photography lighting products will ensure that you can take the best photos possible.
Wherever possible you should avoid using the flash, however if you really need to use it then try to point it away from the subject. This may seem counterproductive, however, it will create a much better result if you do.