Photo Ops: Window Light

When I was starting my career almost fifty-four years ago, there wasn’t a lot of money for equipment, especially lighting equipment. That is if I even knew what to do with said equipment if I had the money to buy it. I relied on my training in Art to get me through any lighting scenarios. What I mean is that I used available light to paint and that often meant using window light. As a result, when I grew up I was confident enough to use the same available window light for just about any kind of job that walked in the door of my first photo studio.

In fact, in the early days, I had a small space that was the bottom floor in an old house. My lighting set-up was a large window in the front of the house the faced North. I lit everything there from portraits to still lifes. At the time, I didn’t realize that it was the best possible way to light people and by the way, during the last few years, it has made a huge comeback.

In my online class with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshop I conduct around the planet, I always suggest available window light and at the same time stressing to avoid fill flash like it was the plague. Even on a gloomy day, there’s going to be enough light coming in from the outside to create a quality portrait. In the winter months, I tell the students that don’t think there’s anything to shoot until the thaw, to shoot indoors using the light from a window. Even when I could afford to take lighting with me on assignments, I would still look for available light from a window first since I was always tried to create it with my strobes and softboxes.

As is the nature of window light, side lighting is going to be the easiest way to light people. I prefer this light since it adds depth to the subject’s face. What I mean by “adding depth” is to make one side lighter than the other, and use a small white reflector to bounce a little light back on the dark side. This falls under one of the basic elements of visual design I teach in my classes called Form. Form refers to the three dimensional quality of an object and has but two dimensions: height and width. To create the third dimension, namely Depth, you have to side light the object; otherwise, it will appear flat with no sense of shape and volume.

Look for rooms with multiple windows that will offer different kinds of lighting. one of my favorite ways to light a person ( as in the above photo) is to have them side lit with a window just out of the frame, and have windows in the background you can blow out. Ok, here’s a good time to tell you that whenever someone tells you that “clipping the highlights” is not recommended, don’t walk away from them…RUN LIKE THE WIND because that person is going to have you take average, predictable photos; who wants that?

Take a look at this slideshow where the only source of light is a window somewhere usually out of the frame…but not always.

-BPSOP Instructor: Joe Baraban

Joe Teaches:

Stretching Your Frame of Mind I 

Stretching Your Frame of Mind II

The Use of Gestalt in Photography

Quiet, abstract, or minimalist?

In Finding Beauty we explore each of these three concepts as they are applied to images:

  1. quiet
  2. abstract
  3. minimalist

You can think of these three as points on a compass, with each leading to a strong composition.

The question is, how far in each direction can you go? More importantly, where within these three points is your own personal “sweet spot”?

Here’s a selection of student work along with what they had to say about the class.

 

Images: Susan Joenck

“I have loved this course.

Finding Beauty helped me to really see details in a scene. I often try to get everything in one photo, and what originally drew my attention gets lost.

This course got me excited about photography again after a long dry spell.”

— Susan Joenck

 

Images: Oscar Pung

“I had great fun and learned so much in Brit’s Finding Beauty class.

My photographic “eye” has been altered. I look for potential subjects in a different way now and find myself seeing wonderful lines, shapes and colors in objects I would have ignored in the past.

Thanks, Brit, for the encouragement and inspiration!”

— Oscar Pung

Images: Elaine Bain

“This is the second of Brit’s courses that I have taken, and with both I have found the course material exceptionally helpful towards improving my images. They are well thought out, and the case studies are varied and always interesting.

Brit gets you to look for things you never thought of before, and her critiques are always positive.

I highly recommend this class for everyone wanting to open their eyes to new ideas.”

— Elaine Bain

 

Images: Gene McDaniel

“This class has taught me to explore the familiar world around me, looking for images that I would have overlooked before. It’s been fun looking for potential subjects and exploring ways to remove clutter and frame the shot in interesting ways.
Brit has also stressed the importance of continuing to work an image even after you think you’ve got the shot. Such a good course!”
— Gene McDaniel

 

Ready to have fun taking your own photography to the next level?

 


 

SIGN UP FOR A FUN CLASS WITH BRIT HAMMER

Finding Beauty

Beautiful Black & White

Authentic Photo Stories

Celebrate Your Life in Beautiful Images

Photography Essentials

Amazing Travel Photos Made Easy

** No post processing skills necessary for any of Brit’s courses **

 

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT BRIT

Brit Hammer is an international award-winning photographer, bestselling author, and a celebrated artist whose work is aptly described as fresh and optimistic.

Brit’s students love her intuitive eye, patience, enthusiasm and holistic nurturing because the results are unbelievably incredible and inspiring student growth.

Visit Brit’s website at brithammer.com

Learn more about creative development and one-on-one mentoring with Brit

Follow Brit on Instagram

 

“There are great photographers and great teachers, but it is rare to find a great photographer who’s also a wonderful instructor; Brit embodies that rare combination.” — Tennessee Rick Elliot

 

Ready to open up your imagination?

In Finding Beauty we look at the world in a different way. During this class you’ll notice the quiet images waiting just for you.

Your images will get simplified. Decluttered. Quiet.

Your compositions will get stronger, too.

Are you ready to start seeing the world differently?

 

Here’s a selection of student work and what they had to say about their experience in Finding Beauty.

Images: Marta Steinke

I see beauty in the world around me, but can it be even more beautiful? Yes!

In this course Brit Hammer takes you on an amazing journey in which you discover the beauty in the small details, textures and patterns.

You gain confidence and develop your imagination and creativity. In the process, not only do you find beauty, you also your inner artistic voice.

From week to week my photographs became simpler and quieter, yet powerful and striking. I, too, became quieter and more aware of my artistic choices.

Brit’s critiques are invaluable. In fact, you are not critiqued but guided with excellent remarks and inspiring questions of how to make your images even better — but the final choice is up to you.

I hope one day Brit will come out with the continuation of this course.

— Marta Steinke

 

Images: Laurie Schaffer

I loved the class. It has really challenged me to think and work outside my comfort zone.  I also love that Brit reviews the class photos as a group, which is a great learning tool and also a way to gain inspiration.

— Laurie Schaffer

 

Images: Marzena Mietkiewicz

This course was very inspiring for me in many ways. Thanks to this course, new perspectives have opened up for me artistically as well as technically.

At the beginning I didn’t know which direction to take, but that was exactly the point — to search, think, try and dare to express what you find beautiful in a picture.

And Brit’s gentle way, with just a few but very helpful words and many examples, shows you new possibilities that you never imagined before. This inspired and motivated me again and again.

The style of my photos has definitely changed positively with this course. I now focus on details that I previously neglected. I have the feeling that I see a lot more now and I show that in my pictures.

It was a milestone in my photographic development and I would like to thank Brit for that!

— Marzena Mietkiewicz

 

Images: Sally Allen

I signed up for the class because I was intrigued by the title. A lot of my work, although not portrayed in the images I took for class, involves finding beauty in unexpected places and in things that aren’t necessarily considered beautiful at first glance.

The class provided me with structure to find images with specific parameters. It also caused me to slow down, to really think about what I wanted to portray and how best to portray it.

I found the class to be invaluable in providing focus to my photography—and to remind me to consider subject and background integration.

— Sally Allen

 


 

SIGN UP FOR A FUN CLASS WITH BRIT HAMMER

Finding Beauty

Beautiful Black & White

Authentic Photo Stories

Celebrate Your Life in Beautiful Images

Photography Essentials

Amazing Travel Photos Made Easy

** No post processing skills necessary for any of Brit’s courses **

 

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT BRIT

Brit Hammer is an international award-winning photographer, bestselling author, and a celebrated artist whose work is aptly described as fresh and optimistic.

Brit’s students love her intuitive eye, patience, enthusiasm and holistic nurturing because the results are unbelievably incredible and inspiring student growth.

Visit Brit’s website at brithammer.com

Learn more about creative development and one-on-one mentoring with Brit

Follow Brit on Instagram

 

“There are great photographers and great teachers, but it is rare to find a great photographer who’s also a wonderful instructor; Brit embodies that rare combination.” — Tennessee Rick Elliot

My Favorite Quotes: Bob Marley

I keep saying how much I love writing for this category. Some of the quotes I write are written by photographers, while others were written by other types of artists; from singers, songwriters, and musicians to novelists and poets.

One of the quotes that have stayed with me over the years was said by Bob Marley. Yes, it’s the same guy you’re thinking of…the Reggae King from Jamaica. Bob Marley died from Cancer about thirty years ago at a hospital in Miami. He was only thirty-six, but his music and lyrics were filled with thoughts and ideas that I’ve found to be in keeping with the way I not only approach my online class with the BPSOP but in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet. One quote has always stuck with me. Bob said, “Some people feel the rain, while others just get wet”.

If you think about it, it can have a profound impact on the way we approach picture-taking. Ok, my students and fellow photographers might ask, what does that quote have to do with my ability to take pictures”?

Well, it’s all about the difference between taking and making pictures. It’s about the total immersion into your new found passion and craft. It’s about mastering light and understanding exposure. It’s about getting some dirt on your shirt or at least your knees. It’s about taking on the challenge of being a good photographer, not a good computer artist or digital technician. Let me explain further:

Determining the light and the direction it’s coming from before you raise your cameras up to their eye to me is the most important factor. Making your own decisions as to the correct exposure to use instead of letting the camera and Lightroom do the work for you, scouting ahead of time and pre-visualizing your ideas in your mind then executing it, and spending more time than the “I came, I shot, I left”  frame of mind I find happening all the time, is about “Feeling the rain”.

The “I’ll fix it later” mentality that has come along with the digital era, has sucked the life and breath out of the right side of our brain; the creative side.  Why should I bracket when I can do it in Lightroom? Why should I worry about the horizon line being straight when I can just use my straightening tool later in front of my computer? It just goes on and on, and this is all about “just getting wet”.

I’ve been following this train of thought since I first picked up a camera fifty-three years ago, in the days way before digital. It’s always been the love of my life, and I suppose that’s what has made it easier for me to caress it and “feel the rain”.

-BPSOP Instructor: Joe Baraban

Joe Teaches:

Stretching Your Frame of Mind I 

Stretching Your Frame of Mind II

The Use of Gestalt in Photography

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  • "Star Trails and Night Photography is one of the best classes of the 20 classes in BPSOP I have taken. I have thoroughly enjoyed Mike Shaw and the simplicity of the instruction. Mike tells you the settings of your camera to get the MILKY WAY. Your fellow students will be amazed at the photos. I recommend that you take the class. " Read More
    Skip Duemeland Star Trails & Night Photography
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