Photography Tutorials & Photowalks

Don’t just stand there let’s get to it, strike a pose there’s nothing to it

The biggest problem with starting a fashion and photography blog slap-bang in the middle of a stinkingly cold and wet winter is simple; the photography bit.  Given that good photography is very much dependent on the quality of light available (be it natural or artificial), by far the biggest obstacle to getting decent images so far has been the weather (if you have a thoroughly British sensibility and relish people moaning about said weather, you can enjoy it in much more detail here).

So what if the light isn’t as great as you hoped it might be?  The logical thing for most photographers would be to add artificial light; but what if you’re just out and about for the day taking some casual snaps?! (So many first world problems, so little time).  As it happens we encountered this very situation recently when wandering the busy streets of London.  So, nerd hats on everyone as we take a closer look at three simple fixes to help you get good pictures even when the light is less than perfect.

1.  There is a light and it never goes out

I know, I know, this is supposed to be about what to do if the light isn’t great, but seriously, light is the name of the game when it comes to photography (literally, it means writing with light).  The trick to getting super shots in lame light (love a bit of alliteration) is very much about working with what you’ve got; check to see which direction the main source of light is coming from and adjust the pose to keep the face or focal point of the image as well lit as possible.  For this particular shot, I switched our shooting position from one side of the street to the other to take advantage not only of the pretty cool shop window display, but of the mild sunlight that was hitting that side of the building.  The pose is pretty much nailed too; the head is turned towards the sun to create a nice, softly diffused light across the face.

1/80th @f4, ISO 1600. Available Light.

1/80th @f4, ISO 1600.
Available Light.

2.  Pose for the camera now

Things like quality of the pose, the location and the general feel of the photo are all crucial when the light is fading.  Take this shot below; in my opinion it is probably the best shot of the day, not because of the light – which is actually pretty poor – but because of the pose (a little teamwork and patience on this one went a really long way to getting this shot).  The way the arms and legs are positioned in two neat converging triangular shapes help to lead the eye up through the frame and towards the face; us funny old human beings are programmed to look at things in a certain order and our eyes are automatically drawn to things we recognise, like other human faces (ok, so when I say it like that it sounds weird, but you get what I mean).

1/150th @f4, ISO 400. Available Light.

1/150th @f4, ISO 400.
Available Light.

3.  Storm clouds may gather and stars may collide…

…but more often than not they will soon part again.  Yup, we’re back to light again, sorry.  As every landscape photographer knows, some of the best light of the day comes immediately after a storm or heavy shower, so keep your eyes on the skies on the off-chance that the clouds will break for a few minutes.  One of my favourite images from the day is this slightly backlit shot, which happened completely by chance when the clouds overhead parted for just long enough to get the picture.  When artificial light isn’t an option, luck definitely plays a big part in your chances of success.

1/100th @ f4, ISO 1600. Available light.

1/100th @ f4, ISO 1600.
Available light.

So there you have it!  Just a couple of pointers and tips to help you get good shots whatever the lighting conditions.  There are loads of little compositional tricks like these you can try which all make an image more visually appealing and I’m sure I’ll be back soon to discuss these in more detail!


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