Nov 8, 2013

iPhone photography... a guide for the everyday mom {#3 :: Lighting is Everything}

Happy Friday, friends! I’ve decided to pick up where I left off on my iPhone photography series today. I realize it's been a while, but I'm committed to finishing this series even if it drags on into 2014.. haha.

If you missed my first two posts in this series, you may want to click over and read my thoughts about how to hold your iPhone and how to maintain picture quality

Today I want to focus on possibly THE MOST IMPORTANT technical aspect of photography—lighting. As the saying goes, lighting is everything (even when using your iPhone camera). It’s the one thing that can make or break a photo. 

While I’m very grateful for artificial lighting (thank you, Mr. Edison!), natural lighting (light produced by the sun) trumps artificial lighting by a mile when it comes to iPhone photography. In fact, the sensor in your iPhone handles natural lighting the best.  You’ll notice this especially when taking action shots in natural lighting. You’ll have less of an issue with blur.
iPhone Photography for the everyday mom :: Lighting is Everything
My boys in action over the summer.

The one caution with natural lighting is to avoid having the sunlight shinning directly into someone’s face when taking a portrait. This is especially important when photographing children. For one, direct sunlight leads to squirmy kiddos. It also causes lots of eye squinting and creates pretty harsh shadows. The solution is to find a nice shady spot for getting the best portrait quality. 

If you’re shooting inside, turn off your indoor lights and place your subject near a well-lit window.  I often do this when photographing food (one of my passions in life.. haha).

Ham & Turkey Wrap photographed near my dining room window
In the above photo, I took advantage of the exposure feature on my iPhone. By tapping my iPhone screen on the spot where the wrap was, I was not only able to set my focus on the wrap, but I was also able to give it the proper amount of light (or exposure) for the photograph. If I would have tapped my iPhone screen on the window behind the wrap, my wrap would have become darker. Exposure is best seen in high contrast lighting situations. Here are a couple of other examples of using exposure:

iPhone Photography for the Everyday Mom :: Lighting is Everything
In the picture on the left, I tapped the screen on the praying mantis, and Liam's face got darker and out of focus. In the picture on the right, I tapped the screen on Liam's face and the praying mantis got darker and out of focus. 

iPhone Photography for the Everyday Mom :: Lighting is Everything
Believe it or not, these two pictures were taken within seconds of each other. Notice the stark contrast between the lighting in these two photos. I was able to create two different photos by simply tapping my iPhone screen in two different places (clicking on Silas in the first picture and clicking on the sky in the second picture). In the second picture I was also able to get a great silhouette of Kevin tossing the ball by exposing the brightness in the sky.

My encouragement to you would be to play around with exposure to see the what creative possibilities you can come up with!

One last things before I sign off: remember that a huge part of getting a good iPhone photo requires an awareness of the part of the photographer (that's you!). Before taking a photo, ask yourself a few simple questions: 

{1} What direction is the light coming from? (You may want to circle your subject to see what angle provides the best light.)   

{2} Where are the shadows falling? (If you’re going for a more creative shot, you may want to include shadows, but otherwise watch out for unwanted shadows—especially on the face.)

iPhone Photography for the Everyday Mom :: Lighting is Everything
An example of using shadows to my creative advantage.
{3} What color is the light? (This is especially important in the early mornings or late evenings when lighting tends to give a nice warm yellow or orange glow. These windows of opportunity are pretty short, so use this to your advantage!)  

iPhone Photography for the everyday mom :: Lighting is Everything
An example of using the late evening light to my creative advantage.
 Bonus Tip: Don’t underestimate the power of a cloudy day! Not only to overcast skies provide a soft, natural light, but they also eliminate the stress of having to worry about shadows if you're shooting cute little faces!

Happy Shooting, 


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