Photography Tip- How to Use Window Light

How to Use Window Light | Photography Tip

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First of all, Happy Valentine’s Day!

Do you love this holiday or hate it? Did you get your special someone something pretty, tasty, or fragrant? Or do you purposely ignore this “Hallmark-Holiday”?

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I have a great photography tip for you.

Photography Tip- How to Use Window Light

It involves a very, VERY high quality computer drawing that I did myself, just for you. What can I say, I am a true artist. [Not!]

Today, I want to talk about using window light [or patio door light in my case] to enhance your photos and create specific looks or moods. When you have light coming in a window or a door, you have basically three options on how to use that light. We’ll talk about all three.

But first, here is my computer drawing of my living room, so you can get a feel for the layout and where the following photos were taken. Please, don’t judge me based on my ability to draw or write with a mouse. I don’t have one of those fancy tablets and well… be kind.

So the light is coming in the patio door and flooding my living room with pretty natural light. Because I don’t have any kids or pets to photograph and my usual model was at work when I created this tutorial, we’re going to look at my lovely Kelly Moore 2 Sues camera bag as an example.

One option when you are using window light is to backlight your subject.

This means putting your subject in front of the window, and then adjusting your exposure so that your subject is correctly exposed.

This can create a very dramatic photo, with a lot of contract between the subject and the blown-out/white background. If you are shooting on auto mode or even aperture priority, this type of situation will often give you a silhouette, where your subject is black and the background behind it is properly lit. This is a situation where manual mode is best, so you can choose your exposure settings and make sure your subject isn’t completely black.

The next option when using window light is to position your subject at a 90 degree angle to the window, resulting in side lighting.

As you can see with the bag, the light is coming in from the camera’s left, and lighting up that side of the bag really nicely. The opposite side of the bag though has a lot of shadows in it.

Imagine that this was a photo of a person, or a closeup of their face. The side closest to the window would be very well lit, but the opposite side would be in shadow. This is ok if that is the look you are going for. It can give you a very moody and interesting portrait.

The third option for window light is to have your subject face the window so that the light is falling evenly on them. This is called front-lighting.

In this case, I put the bag on the chair in my above diagram. You would then be positioned in between the window and your subject. If you are shooting this way, make sure that you aren’t blocking the light that is falling on your subject as you shoot.

All three of these are good choices for positioning your subject when using window light. Which one you should use will depend on the look and feel you are going for in your photo.

The option that will give you the most even and softest light would be the third one, where your subject is facing the window, and you are shooting them without blocking that light.

But you can use any combination of them to achieve different looks in your photographs.

Photography Tip- How to Use Window Light

If you want to learn more about photography and the intricacies of the different types of lighting, check out the Love Your Camera E-book and Online Photography Course here.

Learn how to use your camera and take professional-level photos with The Love Your Camera Course | Beginner Photography TipsP.S. If you’re looking for a beautiful camera bag that is stylish as well as functional, Kelly Moore Bags are my all time favorite. I have two of them; the B-Hobo and the 2 Sues. And I’ve drooled over every single other one on the site. Beware, they’re addicting. And they can double as a purse, diaper bag, computer bag or travel bag too.

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