How to Get Good Lighting for Pictures
When you dive into the world of photography, it’s important to learn how to get good lighting for pictures at home without renting out expensive studios. Fortunately, there are many different methods and techniques such as using reflectors and lightboxes to help improve your photography with great lighting.
Join us on this journey of light as we explore how to take the best pictures possible.
Discovering What Lighting Is Best for Pictures
The first step to taking the best photos you can is to study the area where you’ll be taking them. This means assessing your natural light sources (aka your windows) and how the light changes throughout the day.
If you’re taking photos of food or products, you’ll benefit from a portable photo studio. This is a great way to know each shot will be a quality one since you can control the amount of light and the backdrop you work with. This Studio is incredible since it's on wheels - just roll it wherever the light is best.
Time of Day for Best Lighting for Pictures
You may already have discovered that early morning and late afternoon are good times for natural-light photography. This is because the light is directional (rather than overhead), creating natural shadows that help frame the object or subject you’re shooting.
Knowing when is the best lighting for pictures can help you make the most of the light that’s available to you. A reflector is a useful tool to help you evenly distribute light, even when photographing in outdoor settings.
When taking indoor photos, it’s essential to learn how to use umbrella lights for product photography and portrait images.
Use a Backdrop for the Best Lighting Results
By using a great backdrop, you ensure that your photo draws the attention of your viewers.
The Gloss White surface is a great example of an all-white, high-gloss surface to use as a backdrop. This pristine surface instantly reflects whatever you place on it, creating amazing professional quality displays.
As a product photographer, you’ll learn about light temperatures, hues, and shadows, and also how to light a white background. White backgrounds reflect light onto the product being photographed, ideal if you’re doing your own product photography for a small online store.
Light the white background of your choice with a great lighting kit. Lighting kits with spotlights and backlights allow you to highlight your chosen subject matter against the white backdrop for maximum effect.
Some tips on using artificial light are:
- Place the light source close to the object if you want to minimize shadows. Place it far away for more dramatic shadows.
- Turn off any other background lights and block the windows out with curtains or drapes to ensure your subject only receives the light from your chosen light source.
How to Take Low Light Photos
Natural light may not always be available, so you have to learn how to take low-light photos. For this, use different white light settings on your camera. A wide aperture lens can capture more light in indoor photos.
Note that a wide aperture shot will have a shallow depth of field, meaning you will have crisp details up close, but anything further than a few inches from the lens will be soft and blurry. This is great for those brightly lit close-up photos that are popular with product photography shots.
How to Get Good Lighting for Product Photos
Using a lightbox is one of the best ways to get great product photos. However, if you don’t have access to one, you’ll have to get technical and use your camera to its full potential. Also, use equipment like LED lights to increase light exposure.
Use a great photo backdrop that you can move around to windows where there’s sufficient light for natural shooting. Even a white drape can dramatically help your light exposure for products styled with this as a backdrop.
Using a Reflector
A light reflector helps you balance the amount of light the different sides of your subject matter receive. You can make a light reflector with any plain surface with a light color. Try using the All-White Replica Surface if you have it. That's what we're using in the photo below.
A light reflector bounces light onto the far side of your scene to fill in darker areas of your subject and reduce shadows.
Try different angles to reflect the light for a better result. Remember that not everything in the photo needs to be lit and shadow can be useful as a contrast too. Shadows help boost three-dimensionality in your final image. So a reflector may not be right for you.
Use the Color of Light to Paint
Light is a spectrum, and it’s never just neutral white. Different lighting methods produce different color lights. Fluorescent lights tend to have a cool light, while iridescent lights are usually warm in tone. Some LED lights have different hues according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
By using a warm light on a cool subject, you can improve the overall appearance, while using a warm light on warm subject matter could result in an overly warm photo. The type of light you choose depends on your desired effect. Experiment to find a glowing light that works.
The light spectrum for studio lights starts with warm lights such as incandescent bulbs, which give you candlelight to sunset-light depending on its wattage. On the opposite end of the spectrum are fluorescent bulbs that can have a blue to green cast.
Choosing a Light Scheme at Home
In addition to your usual LED light kit, you may wonder, “are ring lights good for product photography?” Ring lights aren’t ideal for product photography as they can cause hotspots in your image.
However, you can still make them work if that’s all you’ve got. Screen the light through a diffuser or even a pillowcase to get rid of the harsh spots of light.
When setting up your lighting for product photography at home, you should consider using a three-point system. Three-point lights help create great lighting schemes for product and portrait photography in an indoor studio or at home.
You could use a neutral tone light as your key light. The key light is set up facing the product while remaining at 45 degrees to the camera. Elevate this light slightly to create one strongly lit side to your product.
Next, the fill light is a similar light to the key light, but less intense. Place it 45 degrees opposite the key light. So, if the key light is on the right of your subject, place the fill light on your left.
Finally, you can add a backlight, which is directly opposite the fill light and has a much lower intensity light. This creates clear edges to the products and helps delineate them from the background.
Did you find our blog helpful? Then consider these ones next:
- Can You Use A Ring Light For Food Photography
- Best Led Lights For Product Photography
- How To Get Good Lighting For Product Photos
- How To Get A Perfect White Background In Product Photography
- What Color Backdrop Is Best For Photography?
- Photo Compositions to Know
- Natural Lighting
- Depth Perfection
- Light + Airy Photography
- Dark + Moody Photography
- Food Styling
- Product + Flat Lay Styling
- Clothing Photography
- Drink Photography: The Splash Technique
- Your Ultimate Photo Resource