Don’t you love it when the BEST thing is also the FREE thing?
Well, you’re in luck, friend, because that’s the case when it comes to lighting.
There’s nothing like the sun when it comes to making your product photography pop. Sure, lightboxes and studio setups have their place, but if you can master natural lighting, you are on your way.
So long dark, dull, generic pics.
Not only is natural light free, but it’s also gorgeous and pure. And, to beat the monochrome drum of my latest post, about the beauty of white backgrounds, natural light will keep your colours true and your whites, white! (Gawd, sorry if this sounds like I’m hawking laundry detergent!).
Natural is beautiful – and professional.
And natural isn’t just for newbies. I am a natural light photographer. Proudly. My photography style is raw, real and authentic, so it makes sense that my lighting of choice is the same. Although I do reach for studio lights from time to time – I prefer the natural and beautiful glow of the sun to illuminate my images.
What’s wrong with artificial light, you may ask? Well, it can cast yellowish hues that throw off the actual colour of your wares. Some gear requires an advanced degree in lighting design to get it right. And overbright artificials will spotlight your subject flaws or imperfections and cast harsh shadows, like a mugshot for your product.
Naturally-lit shots sell everything from food to fashion.
So, whatever you’re selling, be it food or art, fashion or artisanal anything, the trick to getting natural lighting’s gorgeous glow is to strike a balance between warm and over-bright. You don’t want the harsh glare of direct sunlight, which can overpower your pics. It’s all about moderation.
To get started using natural light, try these simple steps to harness the sun:
- Put a table or chair next to a window (ideally north-facing).
- Create a white background with a white sheet or roll of paper.
- Direct sun can be a real challenge in product photography, as it results in dark, unsightly shadows. Shoot on cloudy days if you can.
- If the sun is burning bright, don’t scrap your shoot. Improvise a diffuser with white paper or a thin sheet against the window to soften things up.
- If direct sun simply can’t be avoided, make sure you’re not overexposing the areas where it’s hitting. You can always brighten up other areas in the frame afterward using Snapseed (mobile users) or Lightroom (DSLR users).
Ok, now it’s your turn to make hay while the sun is shining (or, ideally, hiding behind a cloud). I can’t wait to see your naturally-lit wonders.
P.S. Using natural light is so easy and beautiful, it almost feels like cheating, compared to trying to master expensive, complicated lighting equipment. Well, this is one time I say cheat away! Product photography can be fun and easy. Honest!