Thursday, December 03, 2009

My Natural Light "Studio" and Amazon giftcard winner!

Here is a photo of Imp (my two year old, and "Imp" is his very fitting nickname!) I took yesterday in my fancy home studio. Yes, I do have my own studio. And guess what, so do you! I drew a diagram of mine as seen below.

Fancy, right? I am pretty much a 100% natural light photographer. It is not that I don't like flash or am scared of using it, I just prefer to shoot with natural light whenever possible.

For this shot of Imp [...]
I draped our kitchen cabinet with a $8 black fleece throw from Walmart. This is perpendicular to our window. Then I had Imp stand about 2 feet from it (so I wouldn't capture every wrinkle, fold, and crumb in the throw), looking out almost parallel to the window, slightly turned toward it(as seen in the comic above). Oh, and I made sure to take the photo after his nap so I could capture his bedhead (sorry Imp!).

I love this type of position because I can get those lovely catchlights in both eyes but still have some shadow on the side of the face away from the window. Here are the technical details: ISO 400, f5.6, 1/30s, 28-135@53mm. This was a lucky shot because my speed was a bit too slow at 1/30s and many of my images had some motion blur. I did a quick and dirty edit in LightRoom2 (exposure and eye pop) and then some sharpening and removed some red marker from his face in Photoshop CS4.

Rembrandt knew the secret of great lighting and you can learn from him and use it in your photography. Flashes are great for capturing images in dim lighting, fast action, or using as a fill light. However, for most of us who have those flashes mounted right on top of our camera, we can turn them off and use flattering soft natural light to create dramatic shadows in our portraits.

So do you need a fancy studio and light set to get beautiful portraits? Nope. All you need is a background that is not distracting (fleece throws work great!), a window (garages and sheds make great studios too, just open the door), and a model (somewhat reluctant in my case). And make sure when you are taking the photo to turn your model toward the light until you see catchlights in both eyes.

Also, a word of advice. When you promise your two year old that you are going to give them a chocolate chip for being such a good model, make sure that you and your husband have not eaten them all the night before... I was able to save the moment with air-popped popcorn (air-pooped according to Imp, everything is poop this, poop that) and plain almonds. Most kids won't settle this easy... ;-)

If you have any questions, please post them them in my CoffeeShop Flickr Group!


  1. lol...thank you for sharing. I too love using natural light. And unfortunately, the fascination with the word poop doesn't end at three. My four-year-old is STILL obsessed with that word! ah, little boys...

  2. Your narrative and posts always make my day Rita.
    Cutest little Imp ever!

  3. This is great! And I love your writing. It just makes me giggle. :)

  4. As always, I appreciate all you do to help me in my quest to take better photos. Thanks for the tips Rita.

  5. OH MY GOODNESS...LOL please don't post that previous comment...IMP is your Son!! YIKES. thanks you! Ha - hopefully that's your good laugh for today!! ;-)

  6. Love your simple diagram and what a cute expression you captured. I was laughing and nodding my head k nowingly when you talked about photoshopping out marker from your sons' face. And the chocolate chips- ha. Cute and informative post!

  7. Thanks for sharing, I need all the help possible.

    cute capture here, I do hope you reward your young model on occasion, he really is a trooper. : )

  8. IMP has got to be the cutest Imp on the planet. He is so darn cute :)

    Great advice for this amateur photographer - must go buy some fleece!

    THis really was a very informative and wonderful post to read.

    Thank you

  9. Loved your mini-tutorial and your diagram. I was so excited to realize - oh, I have a kitchen and a window and a black fleece throw! Yay! haha

  10. That is a great encouragement! Doesn't always take "fancy stuff" to get an awesome photo!
    Also, I linked to several of your actions in a tutorial I just posted on my site...I use them ALL THE TIME and they've made such a difference in my edits. Thanks!

  11. POOP!!! LOL ooh yes.. I have a 6 year old daughter and a 3 year old son... EVERYTHING is poop and pee.. followed by crazy belly laughter. SOOO easy to amuse. EW!

    ANYWAY! I'm an all natural light photog., so I LOVE when I see posts like this one. I love love love using the light that surrounds us each day. It forces me to be more creative, more aware of positioning and backgrounds, etc. I love that it's INEXPENSIVE too. Great post girly! I absolutely adore coming to your blog! You are my cup of Joe! I can't start my day w/o out ya now! :O)


  12. Oh he's adorable Rita!! I have stumbled on your blog through another reader!! I am planning on getting Photoshop Elements 8 in the new year - have actually just found it on Aussie shelves!! I've been looking for a while, as I have just switched to Mac.

    So I am sure I will be heading back here time and time again for some advice and help!!


    Caroline Cassidy

  13. art studio is perfect! With a set of sliding glass doors. I will try this. I just did my first childrens photo shoot yesterday..on location though..woof! Quite the experience..had a blast though!


Thank you for taking the time to leave a message, I love reading them! All comments are personally moderated by me and I will post and answer them them as soon as possible.