ballroom

You’ve made the decision to have a go at creating your brochure, website or publicity photographs, and you want to make the best of it, and so you get a kit list together.

Now, if you’ve watched professional photographers do their thing, you’ll have noticed that they tend to turn up with a van full of equipment, including all sorts of lights, reflectors, and boxes that nobody knows what they do.

You would be forgiven for thinking that you need to spend a fortune to get the same sort of results the professional will get. However that’s probably not the case. You see, the photographer will be ready for all eventualities. If he or she turns up on site and it’s pouring down with rain or there are dark clouds in the sky, they’re going to have to get the light from somewhere else.

That’s where all these lights become necessary. They’ve probably got one day to get the job done, so they have to make sure they can do it.

You have a greater luxury – time.

If you can wait, then you can make the most of the natural light, and that’s free.

When taking photos of your hotel rooms, whether they’re bedrooms, dining rooms or kitchens, if you can wait until there is lots of light beaming through the windows, you can get some fantastic shots.

What time of day is best?

Obviously, the position of the sun in the sky will have a big impact on the light entering the room. During the morning and evening, at sunrise and sunset, the light is more diffused as it has to pass through a lot more atmosphere to get to the target. This does mean, however, that you can get some excellent external shots that make the most of the “golden hour”.

This will give you warmer colours and longer, softer shadows that can add a lot of depth to your images.

When taking pictures indoors, you will have to open up curtains to let in more light, but, for example, if you happen to have a sun-facing front door, shadows from nearby trees could be cast inside, together with a golden light to give some incredible colours.

If you have an orangery or conservatory or other room with a glass ceiling, direct midday sun may bathe the room with light that can be bent to your will.

With clever use of blinds or shades, you can guide the light exactly where you want it, and use it to highlight furniture, paintings or other interesting parts of the room.

Of course, you’ll need to experiment, but the beauty of using natural light is that it’s free, so try it out now!

 

goldenhour

Late summer is truly the season of the “golden hour,” when buildings and exteriors are bathed in a warm pre-dusk glow. With outdoor photography, it’s generally harder to use artificial lighting to illuminate your subject matter, making you more or less reliant on natural light.

With evenings lasting well past 8pm, now is the perfect time to make the most of your interior and outdoor photography.

The golden hour, also called the “magic hour”, is roughly the hour or so before and after sunrise, though the exact duration varies according to region. During these times the sun casts a soft, diffused light which produces minimal contrast, lessening the chances of draping your subject in harsh shadows or overblown highlights.

The golden hour, referred to here in terms of the evening, is ideal for architectural and landscape photography, as well as outdoor portraits, close-up shots of flora & fauna, and various types of still life portraiture. Whether you’re a photography pro or amateur enthusiast, a few simple tips and reminders will dramatically boost your evening shots.

It’s recommended to invest in a camera with interchangeable lenses or close-up and user-adjustable settings, along with a sturdy tripod. Start by setting the ISO low, with a long exposure.

Auto white balance isn’t your best bet when shooting during the golden hour so adjust to “cloudy,” to avoid neutralizing the warm natural light. If you don’t typically shoot using a wide aperture, the golden hour is an excellent time to experiment with stunning bokeh effects.

Give yourself plenty of time to set up. That magic hour of evening tends to arrive suddenly, with the light shifting by the minute, so try to be prepared. If you have a particular location in mind, such as a building or garden, arrive a little ahead of time to scope out the scene and get your gear in order.

Try to keep shooting steadily while you have the best evening lighting, with minimal stopping and starting. Obviously, you don’t want to make any sloppy mistakes, but bear in mind how quickly the light will be changing. Shoot throughout the evening from all angles and vantage points, and don’t be afraid to experiment with where the light hits and illuminates on your subjects.

During the evening golden hour, the sun is much larger and closer to your subject, producing a lovely diffused glow. Soft light is almost always preferable for any subject you shoot, be it a building or person, as it doesn’t cast harsh shadows or overblown highlights. Best of all, this time of evening provides a high dynamic range, which means you won’t lose any desired details to the aforementioned shadows and highlights.

Landscapes, cityscapes, still life–the golden hour can flatter any subject. You don’t have to limit yourself exclusively to working outside, either. For indoor photography, find a large window or bright open space and let the golden hour work its magic.