Let There Be Light – About Natural Light
As I stated in my previous post, a good flash is essential to photographers. However, a good flash may cost a fortune, and not everyone has that kind of cash sitting around. In the first two years since I began shooting pictures, I did not own a flash and had to improvise on many occasions. If you do not have a flash, you can still take great pictures using natural light if you know the following tricks.
#1 – Reflector
Whether you have a flash or not, a reflector can greatly help you direct the light anywhere you want. If you have a flash, you can use the flash to bounce light in one direction, and use the reflector to reflect the light from the other side to illuminate the subject from multiple direction. If you don’t have a flash and have to rely on natural light, a reflector can be very useful in directing light in any direction of your choosing. Depending on size and brand, a reflector may go from less than $20 up to $50-$60.
A reflector may come with just the white surface, or multiple surfaces made of different materials that create different properties of light. For example, if the reflector, the light source, and the photographers are all close to the subject, the white surface can create a very natural and balanced lighting on the subject. If the reflector is some distance away from the subject, you may have to use the silver surface to reflect more light in the direction of the subject.
#2 – High ISO
Setting the ISO too high may degrade the quality of the image, so you must be very mindful about that. Personally, I would avoid setting ISO above 1600 due to image quality concerns. However, if you are not too concerned how individual pixels on the image turn out, you may set ISO anywhere you like. There are also higher end cameras that offers great image quality at high ISO, but they are also costly and may not be the best choice if you are just a hobbyist.
#3 – Long Exposure Time
The “exposure triangle” dictates that, if you can’t get enough light with the ISO, your next best option is to use long exposure time. However, if you set the exposure time too long, your image will turn out blurry no matter how still you are while holding the camera. The rule of thumb in this case is never set the denominator of shutter speed lower than the focal length of your lens. For example, if the focal length is 35mm, your shutter speed should be no less than 1/35 second.
What do you do if you can’t afford a reflector, the ISO is set to the highest sensitivity and the shutter speed is so low that you risk getting blurry pictures, yet you still don’t get enough light in the frame? Well, in this situation, I would advise you to find another location to shoot your photo or come back at a different time when the lighting is more adequate.
Please share your experience or thoughts by leaving comments below.