I finished my Mastering Natural Light Indoors workshop a couple of weeks ago and holy moly was that class a game changer for me. I thought I knew how to best use the light in my house, but I was only seeing the tip of the iceberg.
One of the biggest takeaways I learned was how to create and utilize light to better set the right mood for my photos. Take these two self portraits…
I’m making essentially the same expression in both, showing the same amount of skin, but the one on the left tells a completely different story than the one on the right. The one on the left is more thoughtful and serene thanks to the natural backlighting, but the one on the right is more moody and raw – that one was actually taken in our guest bathroom using my iPhone as the only light source. (I had the camera set on top of the back of the toilet, held the phone in one hand, and the wireless remote in the other.) The one on the right also utilizes Rembrandt lighting, characterized by the triangle under my eye on the shadowed side of my face. This is the lighting Rembrandt often used in his portraits and is surprisingly tricky to nail. You do not want to know how many almost Rembrandt triangle outtakes I have from this workshop.
Another HUGE thing for me was finally getting some sleeping pics of Emma. All my photographer friends have these amazingly adorable photos of their kids sleeping and Emma’s just too light of a sleeper for me to attempt to go anywhere near her during her naps – much less try to take photos. But now that I was getting more comfortable shooting in low light, I
foolishly bravely attempted the elusive Emma sleeping shot. The one on the left was my first attempt, and while I love her smooshy face – I wasn’t crazy about how the light was hitting her. (I was using only my iPad as the light source.) So when I saw her sleeping in her signature “arms behind the head” position a few nights later, I knew I had to try again. Her little pursed lips in that one just kill me.
I also took advantage of the new blackout curtains in Emma’s room (sidenote: why on earth did we wait so long to get those?!?) to control the light a bit better for some casual portraits.
The last big game changer for me was learning to use what I had around the house to create natural reflectors when there wasn’t enough fill light…
I knew I wanted to attempt this shot, but when I got in the tub to test out the light (before I filled it up) I realized that the tub was just too deep for the light coming in through the window above the tub to adequately light my feet. So… I got creative:
Who needs to buy a reflector when you have a white sheet, thumb tacks, and duct tape? This set up allowed the window light to reflect back down onto my feet, giving me just the right amount of light and that cool reflection in the water.
This was my final assignment submission for the class. The assignment was to take a photo you never would have taken before you took the class, and this certainly qualified… as with the earlier photo, it was taken in our guest bathroom – a room I had never previously even thought to shoot in. And I used my iPhone as my sole light source, something I also never would have done (or at least not done well) before this class. I think the primary thing that makes this photo a first for me is that, despite being someone who for various reasons has ended up taking a stupid amount of self portraits, I had never once even thought to use split lighting (where half of my face is completely in the shadows and half is lit). I love the mood and visual interest it created.
So there you go! Another Clickin Moms workshop crossed off the list, and probably my last for a while. I really can’t say enough good things about their classes, so if you’re at all interested in photography I highly recommend them. There are classes for every level imaginable and you don’t have to be a mom or even female to join in on the fun.