Photography Tips For When You Don't Have A Lot Of Natural Light

Photography Tips For When You Don't Have A Lot Of Natural Light | A Girl, Obsessed

One of the things I knew I'd be losing by moving back home was my excessive amount of natural light. Having an office with a huge East-facing window definitely spoiled me, and I've had to readjust my entire photography setup to compensate for a smaller window mostly shaded by trees. The challenge has been fun to navigate though. I've been able to improve my photography skills, as well as invest in some new equipment and learn new lighting techniques. Today, I thought I'd share some of the things I've learned to hopefully help any of you also struggling with dull lighting as well.

Here's the only natural light source I currently have to work with. It's not much, but if I'm creative I can get a lot out of it.

Here's the only natural light source I currently have to work with. It's not much, but if I'm creative I can get a lot out of it.

Go Where The Light Is

When you only have a small amount of natural light to work with, it's crucial to use as much of it as you possibly can. For my setup, I just have one window near the end of my bed, and my room faces the East. That means, to get the best possible lighting, I need to take my photos early in the day (preferably from 9am to 2pm during the summer), and using the end of my bed to shoot photos is the best spot to get plenty of light. Depending on where you live and which direction your window is facing, this could be totally different for you. Figure out what time of day works best for your lighting situation, and always try to shoot as close to your light source as possible.

Learn Camera Settings & Basic Photography Terms

Your camera settings play a huge part in how your photos turn out, so I highly suggest reading through the manual that came with your kit, as well as just playing around with all of the settings on your camera until you feel like you understand with what each one does. Along with camera settings, I think it's incredibly important to at least get a basic understanding of general photography terms. Things like "ISO", "exposure", and "aperture" are all things you'll want to get familiar with, as well as "composition", "depth of field", and "rule of thirds". This post is extremely helpful and explains 25 of the most common photography terms that all beginners should learn. Give it a read through, and then get to practicing with your camera until you feel a little more confident in your skills.

Here's a shot of my umbrella light in all it's glory. 

Here's a shot of my umbrella light in all it's glory. 

Invest In Additional Lighting

If your lighting situation is especially dire, you might want to consider investing in additional lighting. My window is shades by several tall trees, so even on a sunny day it can be a little difficult to get the kind of light I'd like. After doing a bit of research, I found out about umbrella lights and that they were a great way add light to your photos for relatively cheap. There are two different types of umbrella lighting to choose from - reflective and shoot-through - and I decided to go with a shoot-through kit because it diffuses the light better and makes it look more natural. I had a blast setting the whole thing up when it arrived (it's super simple to put together, doesn't weigh a lot, and can easily be taken down and stored in a small space). My favorite thing about it is that since it provides such a strong and natural-looking light, I can shoot my blog photos at any time during the day (even at night, trust me I tried!) and get fantastic lighting. No longer do the quality of my photos have to depend on whether the weather outside is crap or if there's not enough cloud cover. I'm beyond thrilled, and wish I would've bought an umbrella light years ago.

On the left is an unedited photo using just natural light from my window, and on the right is an unedited photo using both natural light and my shoot-through umbrella kit. Can you believe the difference?! And that's before editing and everything - woohoo!

On the left is an unedited photo using just natural light from my window, and on the right is an unedited photo using both natural light and my shoot-through umbrella kit. Can you believe the difference?! And that's before editing and everything - woohoo!

Make It Bounce

My last tip has to do with the overall state of the room you're shooting in. If you already don't have a lot of light to work with, having a room that's dark and cluttered is just going to soak up any additional light you may have. Try to bring in as many soft and light colors as you can in your photography space to help the natural light bounce and reflect better. Luckily for me, my preference for white means my room is naturally reflective. My bedding is bright white along with most of the furniture and decor, which really helps make the entire room more lit up and airy. If you can, think about painting your walls a light color, hang up white sheets around your photography space, or even just use a couple of white poster boards to bounce the light from your window(s) onto what you're photographing.

Are you currently photographing with less than optimal light?