It’s time for the first of our photography tip posts as part of Roll Around the Block for Melbourne Now, and for this we’re starting with what is possibly THE most important thing… light.
When it comes to photography, using light – or the lack of it – well is what takes photos from good to stunning, and helping your little one see and use the light they’re shooting in is invaluable. So today, for our tips series for little photographers we’re taking a look at light throughout the day and sharing our tips for each.
The Golden Hour
You may have heard of the Golden Hour, or the Magic Hour, for photography or cinematography. Simply, this is the hour after sunrise and before sunset when the softening and glow of the light results in beautiful pictures. It’s a very popular time to photograph as you can use that soft, diffused light to create dreamy images and silhouettes can be achieved to create impact. Taking photos at this time is great for little photographers for two reasons – one is that their images will be flooded with this glorious light and two is that photography can be a terrific quiet activity for an early riser or for winding down at the end of the day.
our top tip for the golden hour
To make the most of the golden hour, check what time the sunset is due in your location and head out for a Roll Around the Block an hour beforehand. Take your time and as the light changes, encourage your little one to take photos not only of the light but also of the shadows.
A personal favourite time to photograph for me is what is known as the twilight. It’s the hour before the sun rises and the hour after the sun has dropped below the horizon. At this time of day, your little one can capture the sky moving through the peach, pink and sometimes red hues without looking at the sun to worry about. The very top photo of this post was taken in the hour before sunrise and this photo above was taken after sunset. Like the golden hour, twilight is a great time for little photographers to gently begin or end their day with a quiet activity.
our top tip for twilight
If your little one loves photographing clouds and the sky, why not check the long range weather forecast and plan for it? You may have heard the saying “red sky at night, sailor’s delight; red sky in the morning, sailor’s warning.” and you can use that to your advantage. The red in the morning is the light reflecting off clouds that haven’t yet reached the horizon you can see, while when the sky is red at night it’s bouncing off clouds beyond your western horizon. To use this to your advantage, have a look at the weather forecast – if it’s forecast to be good weather for days on end, I’d photograph in the evening to catch the red sky at night delight. On the flipside, if there’s a day when rain is forecast to arrive I’d be looking to the sky that morning to try to catch the light bouncing off the clouds heading your way.
The harsh light of day
So you have a little one who loves to sleep in past sunrise and you’ll be photographing during the day. Let me start by saying, lucky you!!! Now on to our tips for photographing when the light is at its brightest and harshest. The most important thing to let your little one know when they are photographing in bright sunlight is a safety one – don’t look at the sun. Not even through the lens of a camera or through the screen of a smart phone. Having said that, they can have the sun’s presence in photos simply by moving the camera until the light leaks in and you can achieve a sun flare.
The light in the middle of the day can be especially bright and you can feel like you’re losing detail in your photos – washed out backgrounds or darkened foregrounds – when you’d like to be able to see both. A way to balance the light in your little one’s photo is to turn on HDR (high-dynamic range) on your smartphone / camera if that’s an option, which allows it to capture the different exposures needed.
Our top tip for bright light
When taking photos of people or objects in bright light, take them in the shade. Not only will it reduce squinting but it also means the photo isn’t awash with the bright light.
In the shadows
Sometimes what really makes a photo work isn’t the light, but rather the absence of it. Encouraging your little one to look at what’s peeking out of the shadows is a great way to capture the light in a different way.
Our top tip for shadows
When photographing to capture the shadows, focusing on the object you want to highlight can make the shadows feel even deeper. On a smart phone this is as simple as tapping on the object before taking the photo.
If you’ve decided to photograph at night with your little one, you’re in for fun capturing images of light! As with shadow photos, clicking on your subject on a smartphone can focus on it and if you have HDR this can be another great time to play with it. Some like it when the lights are still and others prefer when the camera has moved and the lights dance across the photo. It’s great fun to encourage your little one to play with still and moving shots for some very special images!
Our top tip for night
If your little one wants to try for a still, focused shot and needs some help with keeping a steady hand, encourage them to take a deep breath in. Then just after they have begun exhaling, click to take the photo. I use this technique whenever shooting in low light on both my phone and DSLR to keep the camera still.
That’s it for this week’s photography tips. I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about light and would love to see photos of your little ones experimenting with it over on Roll Around the Block, #rollaroundtheblock. Happy snapping!