After I shared some pictures I took with the HTC One a few weeks back, I saw a lot of questions about the use of light in my photos. While I did use some external light source and backgrounds, there was nothing too expensive or too difficult for anyone to try at home.
From lamps and bulbs to backgrounds and sheets, here are a few tricks to better control indoor lighting and create a better photo.
Use a Lamp
Whenever I am shooting portraits indoors, I use an architect’s lamp (sometimes called a drafting lamp). It’s a versatile lamp with multiple pivot points that make it very easy to move around and change the focus of the light. The movement this lamp allows makes it easy to strengthen or lessen the lighting for the subject. You can usually pick up one of these lamps online or at a local retail store for less than $20.
Choosing the Right Bulb
In addition to a lamp, make sure you’re using a good daylight-balanced bulb. The trick is to get the right bulb for the desired look. In my lamp, I use a CFC bulb, the curled energy efficient bulbs that are very popular now, with a Kelvin rating between 4,000 and 5,000 (you’ll find the Kelvin rating on box, usually near the wattage rating), which provides a nice clean and crisp white light.
Use a Portable LED
Another easy to use lighting tool is a dimmable LED light panel, which can be purchased online for less than for $30. The LED panel I have contains 160 white light LEDs. I use this light for rings, food, or just adding fill light to smaller objects. These panels typically come with slide in filters that can be used to emulate different lighting types, such as a warmer tungsten light or a soft pinkish light.
Here’s an example of a picture using the portable LED light mounted on a mini tripod. In this example, there are no adjustments to the exposure on the camera, instead, I dimmed the LED lights change the warmth of the subject.
Creating a Window Cover
I love using natural light whenever possible, but it isn’t typically as versatile as a lamp. Why? You can easily move your lamp or LED panel but a window is stationary. While I sometimes make use of window light, there are a few things you can do to better control the light.
First, if there is a curtain at the windows, try pulling out the inner part of the drapes. Many times this can be used to leave a nice soft light. If there isn’t an interior sheer curtain, try hanging up a thin white sheet to change the setting and mood.