Quick Photo Tip: North Light

The next time you want to take a portrait of a friend, relative, spouse, your kids, or your pet, and you either don’t have the right lighting equipment (the flash on your camera is not the right equipment) or you can’t afford it,  think about the best source of light there is…North light.

If you want to find out just how important North light really is, just go to Google and type in North light rental studios in let’s say New York, and you’ll find several to choose from.

Why is North light so sought after?

Let me digress or a moment and say that in 1971 I opened my first studio in the bottom floor of an old house in Houston. I also rented one room upstairs that had a window that faced North. I used that for my only light (I couldn’t afford any lighting)  when I shot portraits. Back then I didn’t realize the importance of North light; the importance being that direct light will never come in the window keeping the quality of the light and color balance the same all day.

My clients (few but growing) loved the way they looked when I put them next to the window while adding a little white reflector on the dark side of their face. Since I studied painting and not photography, I remembered the way Rembrandt painted and now, three hundred and fifty years later, his light is referred to by photographers as Rembrandt lighting.

The above photo of a boxer, his manager, and trainer was shot for Budweiser beer. We had just finished a big production shot that included several hours of setting up lights in a very dimly lit gym in San Antonio. As I was heading to the bathroom I noticed this small window that was facing North. I went back to where we had been shooting, grabbed all three of them and took them back to the window. In a matter of about a minute I had taken a picture that the client wound up using.

What I tell the students that take my online classes, and my fellow photographers that join me in my “Stretching Your frame of Mind”workshops, make like simple for yourself. Find a window in your house that faces North, and try it out for yourself; you’ll be glad you did.

-BPSOP Instructor: Joe Baraban

Joe Teaches:

Stretching Your Frame of Mind I 

Stretching Your Frame of Mind II

“I just wanted to thank you for another wonderful class. I have to confess that each week when I read the new assignment, my first reaction was mild panic and a deep certainty that I would not be able to produce anything worthwhile that fit within the parameters you had set. But before I knew it, the ideas started to flow, and I quickly became obsessed (no, that isn’t too strong a word!) with exploring the possibilities. I can honestly say that the photos I produced in response to your assignments are among my favorites. Thanks for bringing out a creative side I didn’t know I had!”

Barbara Geiger
Understanding Color

“Thank you so very much for this course! It’s allowed me to take the blinders off and present my images for what I want them to be without being a slave to the “reality” of the camera. I would also add that in conjunction with your printing course, this has been the most useful course I’ve ever taken. Your notes are more than comprehensive and your comments and critiques are direct, clear, and always directed to the improvement of the art.”

After the click

” I want to thank you for this class and for your patience and availability to answer all of my questions. I have learned very much through this class. I have used LR in the past, but mostly for editing images. I now have a better grasp in the organization of my images, an even better understanding of editing images, and an understanding of the value of presets. I still have a lot to learn, but this has put me on the road to be able to improve my photography. Again, thank you! ”

Dale Yates
Lightroom Quickstart

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