24 January, 2008

Photo Tip :LIGHT: installment one.

I get photographers (pro and hobbyists alike) emailing me questions all the time, from what type of gear do I use, where do I buy my gear, what type of point and shoot would I recommend, to pricing guides for professional photographers, to "how on Earth did you get that shot," to what setting do you use most often, to can I buy one of your children (just kidding, but just fyi, they're not for sale). I'd like to field some of these inquiries here. So check back often for more tips and tricks from Natalie Norton Photography (I'll also be posting tips from other professional photographers who I associate with along with their sample images: with their permission of course). All I ask is that you do exactly what I say. . . repeat after me, "Natalie is the boss of me." No, but really, give it a shot and then email me your images/your experience/what you learned/what worked/what didn't work/whatever tickles your fancy at natalienorton@gmail.com. I'll showcase examples of the concept discussed here on my blog for all to see along with a link to your site (if you've got one). I'm no expert, not by a long shot, but I'm so excited for us all to work together to become the best we can be, together! Go team!

**Point and shoot, digital SLR, whatever. . . these tips are for everyone!**

We could go on and on and ON AND ON about light. We will, don't you fret, but not today. Today we're just going to get you noticing light in a different way and getting it to work for you rather than against you toward your best images possible.


I shoot 98% of my images in natural light. My flash stays off unless it's an emergency snap shot. Like, for example, this one at my parents house over the Christmas holiday when Raleigh fell asleep naked on the floor in a dark bathroom with his feet up in the air. My flash was jolly good to me that day. I couldn't have caught this priceless moment without it.

This isn't a BAD image. I mean I won't be throwing it into a photo contest any time soon, but it's decent. Here's what went on in my mind: Because for this shot I was forced to use the flash, I knew that the other objects surrounding my son would cast dark shadows on the plain wall behind him (sometimes shadows are a cool effect that I actually work toward creating, but not in this instance). So I opted to shoot at an angle from above to minimize the inevitable. I knew I couldn't prevent the shadows all together, but I could minimize them by CONTROLLING the way my light hit my subject.


This next one is a gem. I was shooting Heather and Troy back in September (view the post from the shoot here). The room was pretty dark, so I had them set up on this awesome bench right near the window so I could catch the natural light as the sun began to set. I did a couple of shots and then I noticed that the light coming in the window was hitting a foot or so out of my frame, right above Heather's head. I knew that if I was just patient for a couple of minutes it would continue to fall until I ended up with something magical. Like this:

The shots just before this one were great shots. Heather gazing peacefully out the window, her feet draped over the man she loves as he in turn gazed down at the precious package sleeping in her tummy. . . but that sweet, soft glow on her face. . . ahhh. It just takes a good image up a notch. SIDE NOTE: Windows rock my photographic world. Get your subject up near a window or have them stand in an open door frame. LET THE LIGHT SHINE! It really will rock your world.

So here's our challenge: in the next few days play around with light. Create AND CONTROL your own and/or WAIT for some good light to come your way and then let it rock your images out! Remember I want to see what you come up with! Don't be shy! We're all learning. Me too. I IN NO WAY consider myself an expert. Remember, send your images to natalienorton@gmail.com. If you'd like feedback, but wouldn't necessarily like me to post your images, just tell me so. I'd still love to check them out.

Happy Shooting!




i'm erin. said...

ohhhh Natalie! Your blog is seriously photo candy. I love it and devour it as I would all candy. Thanks for the tips I will work on your challenge this weekend and send you what I end up with.

Damaris @Kitchen Corners said...

This is the best post I've read in a long time (from all the many blogs I read). I love blogs with real content not just the typical "my life is perfect blog." I actually took notes on your tips. In fact I'm starting a little photo diary where I will take notes and try out your tips. I hope you feel pressured. Just kidding. I love your work because I know you and you are such a straight out down to earth kind of gal and it totally shows. The latest pics you posted of Rileigh were amazing. I will try your tip once it stops pouring rain and send it to you.

Ashley said...

Thanks for the tips. I really think you pics are beautiful and I am going to let the light rock my world and pics. I would love to see you guys when I come but I am going tobe on Maui. Bummer:(

shelly said...

Very valuable tips, Nat! I LOVE light, and used to use it, always. I've just been messed up since I got lazy when I got my digital camera and started going "auto". It's made a total difference (and not a good one!). Now, I've got to figure out how to go back to manual!

shelly said...

The picture of Raleigh in the bathroom is HYSTERICAL, by the way! Hahahaha!

Jessica said...

I am totally taking your tips and putting them to use! I would love some critiques from you!

AJ said...

Smarty pants!

Heather Capener said...

I have a feeling my last comment didn't post so I'll try again.
Thanks for the tip, I am excited to get out and get shooting. I love taking pictures, and I love it even more when they look good. I am always willing to take all the tips and advice people are willing to give! I'm gonna get shooting!

Scott & Tami said...

Nat----I looooove you too!!! Thanks for the awesome posts...I'm stoked to milk up all the advice and learn as I go...I have a lifetime of photos to take...might as well be good...Natgood that is!