photography

Five ways to add more light to your images without using flash

When you have studio lights and other camera lights, it becomes easier to shoot scenes; even amateur photographers can thrive in this type of situation. However, the situation becomes a little more difficult when you want to shoot without using flash. The truth is that you won't always have the type of light condition you hoped for. It is essential you learn how to overcome such situations.

​Good news is that you can still take a great shot without using flash. Just like everything in digital photography, there are advantages and disadvantages and you have to learn how to manipulate situations to your advantage.

Flash is good, especially in low light digital photography. However, there are some situations that won't benefit from using a flash. It may be that flash interfere with the moment or you calculated that it won't lead to the best output. No matter the case, the tip below will help you understand various ways you can add more light to your images without using flash.

1. Get a Lamp

When studio light is not available, your next best alternative could be the use of lamps. Lamps may not give you the same result like studio light and may even be a bit harsh; however, they will help you get the job done.

You can use lamps to light up any dark corners of a room especially when you are shooting an indoor portrait. This can provide you with a little extra detail. Moreover, as a rule of thumb, any lamp in your scene should be turned on when you are shooting environmental portraits.

A lamp that allows you to adjust its angle will be more useful to you since you will have more control over the direction of that light. You can soften the harshness of the bulb light by draping a linen or tea towel over the shade to diffuse the glow.

Finally, if this lamp is your main source of lighting, don't forget to adjust your white balance accordingly. Ensure you get your tones as accurate as possible.

2. Shoot Outdoors

Most people forgot that they could get a lot of natural lighting when they shoot outdoors. If you are struggling with lighting when trying to capture a family photo; a great alternative will be to shoot outdoors.

You can get more light to your image even on a dull day. However, make sure you avoid direct sunlight. A strong overhead sun can ruin your shot; it will create harsh highlights as well as deep shadows that make your image look ugly.

To get the best of outdoor light, you need to shoot early in the morning or late afternoon. Sunlight during these two periods can bring your subject to life. When the weather is too bright and you don't have any other alternative, find a shade to reduce the contrast on the subject.

For example; if you are shooting a family portrait, you can ask your family to stand in the doorframe and shoot from the outside. You will have enough light to get the best shot.

Consider using a diffuser when you are shooting outdoors in the sun. The diffuser can be extremely beneficial. You can use it to soften the effect of direct sunlight and avoid those ugly highlights.

3. Leverage the Windows

Is there a window in your room? If you can't shoot outdoors but need to add more light without using flash, you can leverage any available window in your room to add a little more light into your scene.

To get the best result, you have to experiment, start by setting up your shoot in the middle of the room, if this doesn't work, then consider moving the subject towards a window in that same room. You will definitely see an increase in the amount of light available for your shoot.

You will get the best result in your shoot in a window facing north because you will have less strong shadows and less harsh highlights on a sunny day. The south-facing window works best on overcast days because the sunlight will be diffused through the clouds.

When shooting macro or still life photography, find a greenhouse or conservatory to shoot. These rooms have big windows and you will get enough light to make your shot stand out.

4. Reflectors

Reflectors can be extremely useful in this type of situations. They can be used in almost all types of photography. They are very affordable and don't require a battery.

With a reflector, you can distribute light on your subject and get a more flattering result. Using a reflector is very easy; simply hold it on the opposite side of your subject from the source of the light. Ensure that the reflective side of the reflector is facing your subject, when you have confirmed that everything is in order, go ahead and take your shot.

If you need to control the amount of light you are distributing with the reflector, you can do that by tilting and angling the reflector or by simply moving it to another position around your subject. Use your Live View to see how this changes the light in the shadows. Note that reflectors come in different colors such as silver, white and gold and each color produce different hues of light.

If you don't have enough money or time to invest in reflectors, you can use a number of household items such as polystyrene, a piece of white card or even a sheet of paper as a DIY reflector to bounce light into your scene.

5. Use Flashlight/Torch

When everything else has failed, you can use flashlight/torch to add more light to your images without using a flash. The great thing with a flashlight is that it is portable making it easy to carry around. This is also the reason why most professional photographers use it to paint with light.

Painting involves moving light from a flashlight around a scene during a long exposure so that the light passes over the subject and every bit of the subject gets briefly illuminated during the exposure. In reality, painting with light isn't easy; it takes some serious practice to start getting it perfect. However, the effects are very satisfying once you master it.

I will recommend that you practice with a different flashlight, white balances, and exposure times to see the full range of effects you can accomplish in your final result. With some flashlight, you can be able to adjust the intensity of the light beam. If you don't have this type of flashlight, you can use bits of card or tin foil as DIY light modifiers.

Note that you need a long exposure time to have an opportunity to pass the light over all the areas that you want to be brightly exposed. You will also need to set your ISO value as low as possible.

Since you are shooting in a very low light condition, it is recommended that you focus the lens manually using the enlarged live view image on your camera's LCD screen as you pass the flashlight over the required areas.​

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