The Magic of Diffused Light

Happy post Christmas Day everyone! I haven’t released anything educational in a while and so for all those photographers out there, I thought I’d go ahead and drop some knowledge about what I’m currently learning.

 

This past weekend my cousin Anna married a downright WONDERFUL man named Andrew. They are right now as we speak raising money to go out into the world and preach the gospel at an undisclosable location! I know it’s weird but I live in a SUPER close cousin family. On my mom’s side, I have twenty-one first cousins and we love to hang out. So, if any of us get married, you can expect that a good majority of the cousins are going to be there to celebrate. OH! I actually shot some engagement photos for Anna and Andrew a while back in my PB Days (pre-blog) so I can’t actually link you to those photos but here’s just a couple if you’re interested in just how cute they are together!

 

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Anyway though, they just got married and I was there. And even though I wasn’t the photographer, I couldn’t resist the chance of capturing my wonderful family all decked out in their dresses and suits! So when I saw some of the bridal party standing outside the church, I popped in a lens and walked over! Now, here I could go into two different speals. One, I could talk about how important confidence is as a photographer [but I recently wrote about that HERE] or I could go into the NECESSITY of knowing the people you photograph PERSONALLY [I’ll write about this soon]. However, those aren’t the point of today.

 

So what is the point? To talk about my family? Well… kind of. I REALLY like them! But more than that, I’m writing today to tell about a concept I’ve picked up over these past four months of growing and developing as a photographer. Here it is: Good lighting is CENTRAL to good photo taking. I’d go so far as to say that if you can find good lighting, you have found a great place to take photos, no matter what the background. Lucky for me, the light was PERFECT where the party already was and so I just snapped a bunch of photos before the ceremony went down. I literally walked up and was there for 9 minutes and got fifty photos that I really like! Here’s an example:

 

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My little brother Peter couldn’t help but jump in on the action.

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And it’s good he was there, because MULTIPLE groomsmen needed him to tie bow ties.

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Now, it’s important to go ahead and ask what makes good light. I don’t have my own unique name for it yet [though I’m tempted to call it bouncing light], but practically, one of my top two favorite lighting situations comes in the mid day sun when I can place my subject under some kind of overhang. My first favorite light comes from the sunrise/sunset [talked about HERE] but even during the mid-day, with the sun bearing down from straight above, you can find magnificent light if you just find some kind of pavilion or roof. The alternative would be taking photos in direct sunlight, and you will quickly run into some really intense shadows.  This is one of the groomsman who is straight up going to be a lady-killer one day!

 

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Look at that eyebrow pop! But then, after noticing the attitude, look at the light! Perfectly even and wonderfully spread across his face so that every detail is captured but no detail is blown out. I just love it! And this is taken around 2:30, when the sun is a little past its peak but still very much up in the sky. If we’d be in direct sunlight for this, there would have almost definitely been some very ugly shadows hanging over his eyes.

 

I try to use this technique as much as I can during the mid day. Here’s a couple examples from a recent wedding of Lauren and Ethan’s bridal party photos [If you’d like to see all the photos, check em out HERE]. These were taken again around three in the afternoon but I made sure to find natural shadows!  In doing so, I allowed light to do what it naturally does, bounce off stuff and diffuse!  I didn’t need filler lights or diffuser circle things.  I just needed the knowledge to know what setting I was looking for.

 

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And bonus tip for photographers who haven’t realized this, if you want a natural, soft look in your photos at a wedding, when taking getting ready photos, get natural light! Resist the suggestions by well-meaning parents to turn on bulbs in the room! Yes, they will add more light, but it will probably be light that you’ll have to somehow edit out later to get the skin tones you want. Depending on your style, it may be better to just let the photos happen in with a one-directional natural light source that bounces into the room.

 

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You see that? A challenge! Next time you take pictures, LOOK FOR THIS LIGHT!!! Then, once you’ve found the light, start composing photos. You’ll be amazed how much easier it is to get good, even photos.

 

STEP ONE: Find good lighting

 

STEP TWO: Compose and take awesome photos

 

And as a bonus, my family loves taking photos! Which is good for me because I really like to take and edit them! Now, once again, notice the light! We took these photos on the OPPOSITE side of the house from where the sun was! Why? Because I knew the light would bounce off everything in front of the house and create a PERFECTLY lovely scene on the porch.

 

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To God be the glory,

daniel jackson