Shortest day of the year for those of us completing a 365 project can also be a frustrating time due to limited available light. I prefer to shoot in natural light, but this time of year shooting in the limited hours when the sun is actually providing enough natural light can be a challenge. In our house, life happens before the sun comes up and after the sun goes down, so here are a six tips with example photos that help this time of year.
1)Shoot first thing in the morning. When the early morning sun is at a low angle in the sky and streaming into your windows you can get some gorgeous photos. When I first started taking a photo a day, I relied on the strategy of shooting in the morning, if I got another, better photo later in the day that was great, but having it checked off my list first thing in the a.m. helped me build the photo a habit. The other advantage of taking photos of my kids first thing in the morning is that they are usually moving a bit slower! I can use a wider aperture and a tad bit slower shutter speed to let in the light with less risk of a blurry toddler running by. Plus, I adore these sleepy kid photos and if you are shooting against white sheets you have a natural reflector.
2) Open the front door. If I need a large light source and my subject is movable, I’ll open the front door and shoot with the light that comes in through the door. If you have overhead lighting on, you might have some white balance issues, so I generally turn those lights off and, again, just use the natural light. This happens frequently when we are leaving for school, if someone is wearing an outfit that shows a particular unique sense of style- I let my kids dress themselves and make sure I have a photo of it to share with them later!
3) Photograph the stuff. This is the perfect opportunity to find the still life photography in your home. I love capturing each of our reading piles or finding our stuff just as we left them as we rush to get out the door on time. It gives a little glimpse into our lives and what is happening right now even without a human subject.
4)Find pockets of light or an artificial light source. Photography actually is derived from the greek roots: photo means light and graphy means writing. When you think of the art of photography as light writing you must look for the light before you photograph. Light can be found in many places- now is the time to discover where the light is in your home and if it isn’t easy to be found create it with artificial light. Sometimes in spots where you don’t think you have light, if you really observe the light you find surprise pockets.
5)Black & white conversions save the day. At the end of the day when you have mixed lighting, white balance issues, a messy room, and/or clashing clothing colors….black and white simplifies it all and saves the day. Converting it all to black & white, simplifies the focus and draws your eye toward the relationships in the photo. I love sweet little moments captured in black & white.
6)Embrace the grain. Bump your ISO up as high as your camera can handle and embrace the grainy image. Some people even add grain in post processing to give their images the nostalgic film-like quality. If you do capture an image that has a lot more grain than you like, in Lightroom for post processing you can use the Noise Reduction sliders to eliminate some of the grain.