More On Window Light

As I mentioned previously, while I was going through a few images for the upcoming Window Light Mini I found a lot of images I skipped using. Typically not because I screwed them up - well maybe I did - but more because I was trying to illustrate one particular thing and they had a bit more going on than that one thing. I've selected a few of those that might be useful for a few people if I discussed a couple of tid-bits in terms of those other things.

I'll kick this off with the image at the top. I used a couple of similar images to illustrate a situation where you can use a window in a high-key low contrast way even if it's the only source with kickback being the main lighting. There are a couple of reasons I didn't use this particular image. One of them being I don't like the arm crop closest to the camera but more so the technical details, camera capabilities, and a few factors that I know would not work with any camera, in any room, with any window so I didn't want to present it as if it would.

The first thing I want to get out of the way is that this shot absolutely positively would not work at all with just any camera. I could present it as if it would and certainly you could make very similar images with any camera just not this exact one. I made a set of very similar images to illustrate this that honestly you really cannot tell the difference in the end result - especially in black and white - I ended up using those instead. It just felt dishonest starting with a RAW image that was base on the extreme capabilities of my D600.

Specifically I shot this at ISO 3200 and even then with a f/2.8 aperture the shutter speed was iffy in terms of hand-held photography at 85mm. There is no-way I could have shot this at 3200 with dynamic range to render it this way with just any camera - no way. Specifically the detail outside with the same exposure level on what is the shadow side of Rebecca. That's the technical part - actually outside is not at all important for this image. In fact all this techno-crap is actually a big distraction to a few things that are important or could be if you choose to make something like this shooting Contre Jour and super high key as it were.

I've probably mentioned it a few times before but with just about any camera if you happen to have this type of sheer curtain material on windows you can expose them just about any way you want - within some degree of rationality. Sometimes it can add just a hint of detail and substance in what otherwise blank white space. Fact is when I am shooting on a location for a client this type of fabric is essential kit for me - lots of it. Obviously you can use it for things just like this - even if you don't shoot right up against a window there are many many circumstances where a spot you really want to use happens to have a large window in the frame. This kind of thing - patterned or not can really change an image for the better. Especially if it's a more modern window with no detail of it's own.

Anther great way to use it is what you see going on with Rebecca's hand. As a prop more or less. Here I am not making an image that uses very much but you can and you would be surprised at how a few dollars worth of this stuff is pure magic when shooting through it in various different ways. You can take an ugly environment and make it magical. Trust me - go get some and play with it in as many ways as you can think of. Do it for a couple of hours with a subject and some windows. Here's another one I didn't ended up using. I used a similar one that better illustrated using hair to separate the face from the very similarly toned background - which was white. Again you can see the huge difference that even extremely sheer fabric with a bit of detail adds compared to blank window.

Say you don't have any and want or have to shoot against windows. Another very common thing I like to do is partially or entirely block that window. I've done that so much to varying degrees it's almost an automatic reflex now. I'll share a few of those this week as well. One word of advice though - it's probably better to try one thing and work with it in a lot of different ways to make it work for you rather than try everything in the same shooting session. Take one thing and work the crap out of it - much more effective in having it stick so that when the opportunity presents itself you will actually remember to do it when the situation is a bit more dynamic than something you setup up just to experiment.


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