How to Take AWESOME Phone Pictures of your
Indoor Lighting Secrets Unleashed
Lighting is the most important thing in a picture‼️You can take the greatest posed image of your pet, the sharpest, taken in the most beautiful place but if the lighting is off, it will ruin the image. Without nerding out on you too much, lighting sets the mood and the feeling of what you are trying to portray. It makes a person on social media click the like or love button. It makes friends and family talk about how great the image was.
In the past seven years, through blood, sweat and tears I have learned indoor and outdoor lighting. I have paid thousands of dollars, studied lighting under several individuals and practice for thousands of hours to get my lighting, where I wanted it. I cried, I got frustrated but what I learned was, when I kept practicing, eventually it came. Some things just take time to get perfect. ♡
In my photography journey, I learned that these lighting techniques that I was learning, could potentially help others, who not necessarily wanting to be a photographer but wanting beautiful pictures for social media and memories of their own journey. I also learned I love to teach & that watching another individual grown as a person in some form of their life, is one of life’s simply pleasures for me.
When brainstorming 🤔, I felt anyone could use these, “secrets”, to create images they are proud of. It does not take a fancy camera or an expensive lighting setup. It just takes knowing the tricks of the trade as I call it.
It is all about 4 thing, yes ONLY 4 thing:
✔️Knowing the difference between Natural vs. Artificial Light
✔️Knowing the difference between images With or Without flash
✔️Knowing the direction of light
✔️Being Mindful of lighting in your home: Tips & Tricks
In this guide, I will explain and show you how lighting can be used to enhance your images. You will be able to take these secrets & recognize lighting. I’m not using many fancy terms because honestly why? If you want to take pictures for you and your not around a photographer friend talking all the techniques, its unneeded. I want the everyday person to pick up there phone and by tomorrow, be taking better pictures and understand why. You will discover what lighting you are drawn to and use it in your everyday images. Are you ready⁉️ Lets do this♡
🐩 June 🐩
❦ Secret #1: Natural Light vs. Artificial Light ❦
Lets talk about Natural Lighting vs. Artificial Lighting. Both will give you different looks in your images. Natural lighting is the light coming into your home from outside. This lighting coming from the sun, into your home by your windows or doors. Room Lighting or Artificial Lighting is coming from a source inside your house. Most people think about lamps but this could also be candles or even a flashlight. The easy way to remember is if it is not the sun or the moon lighting it, it is artificial.
When I started out in photography, this was all I used to take my images. It is not expensive to use, and as long as the sun is up, or the moon is bright enough, you are good to go ❤︎.
Natural Lighting is said to be not as harsh and gives an airy feeling. It can be harsh during certain times of the day but you can make the light less harsh. That is a whole different beast for another time‼️ The biggest thing to remember with natural light is, it comes from the sun. During different times of the day, Natural light will throw off different colors. Just like outside, during the day it is bright/white and during the evening, it turns a yellow/orange color outside. That is the easiest way to describe it. In the picture above, the light is coming from the sun through the window. The colors coming through makes me believe that this was taken in the evening time or what photographers call, “Golden Hour”, if you have ever heard that.
Artificial Lighting is any light that is not coming from the sun. In the picture to the side, the lighting is coming from a strand of lights. But Artificial Lighting can come from a lamp, computer, flashlight, refrigerator or a candles. There are many different sources. The biggest take away that I have learned is Artificial Light will almost always give you a yellow to orange tint in your photos. I can pretty much say 95% of the time you will have that tint. The other 5% of the time, if you are not see it, the bulbs being used are LED/Energy efficient bulbs. Those will produce a blue tint to an image. Look around your house. Can you see the tint by looking at the lamp on? Are you seeing a blue tint or a yellow/orange tint?
What do you use⁉️ It is going to depend on your personal preference. I use both depending on what I am looking to produce with the image. I love artificial light being used when it is dark outside. I love the look of artificial light by candles or a lamp. Now with my pets, I will use artificial lighting for my competition images but natural lighting in my everyday pup pictures for social media. Yes, my pets have their own Instagram account @FurOliverandCompany, why not⁉️
Most of the time with pets, we are taking pictures so randomly. They are doing something cute so we pick up our camera and start snapping away. I think the difference between the two make this list because lighting will change the mood of the image. what I mean by that is yellowish/orange images are said to be warm and inviting. Bluish images are said to be cold but to me they seem light and airy, (they have a whimsical/dreamy feel).
In later secrets, we will use this information learned more and it will all mesh together but for now, lets stop right here.
♡ HOMEWORK ♡
Take a break and I want you to take the camera phone out. I want you to take a picture using Natural Lighting and then go to a room where you can only use Artificial Lighting. Make sure to turn the flash off of your phone. If there is an Artificial Light source in your home, turn it off when you are taking your Natural Light picture. After taking the pictures, look at both of them. Which do you prefer? Or do you like both of them? Don’t delete them just yet. Save them for later.
❦ Secret #2: Images With & Without Flash ❦
I am not a camera phone flash kind of person. I don’t like the way a camera phone throws light all over the picture. To me it makes a picture look flat. I personally believe images that are awesome, have shadows. I want you to choose what you like the best. I want you take take pictures you absolutely love, not what others love. Lets dive into flashes.
When would you use a flash? Your camera phone will automatically flash when it feels there is not enough light in the room. So you will have to consciously remember to turn it off, if you are not wanting yo use a flash.
The pro with using a flash is that with a flash, you will have more light in your image. The con is you may put more light on your image than you wanted. You may also see what they call, “hotspots” on your image. When I think of hotspots, I think of the really white looking areas on a person. You usually seem them on the foreheads of subjects. Basically, the flash is hitting a spot on the subject that is reflecting the light. It causes the white, which you see a lot on human subjects’ head, nose and cheeks. Another con when speaking about pets, red eyes‼️ When using flash with pets, their eyes may turn red or greenish. You know what I’m talking about, the possessed pet look . A beautiful image but the eyes of your pet makes them look possessed? Uggh, I hate that. If you have an older pet as well, you might see white in the pupil. This is caused a lot of times by cataracts.
If you are set on using a flash, one helpful hint is defusing the flash. What is defusing? Defusing in general terms is making the flash not as strong. Put your finger over half of the flash or using something sheer for the light to travel through. It will give you light but it wont be as strong.
TIP: If you don’t want to use the flash on your phone but need a little more light, here is a trick I use. Go grab a sheet of tinfoil or white paper, (tinfoil will be a strong light source). Stand back from you pet and start moving the tinfoil or paper around, until you see the light on their face. This will give you more light. This works really well with natural light images. It also can be added light for overhead lite, and Back lite images.
I want you to try the tinfoil or white paper, using them as a reflector. Get your pet next to some light. Take a picture without the tinfoil or paper. Then, take the tinfoil or paper and move it around, until it is directly over their face and take another picture. Compare the two, can you see the difference? Save those two pictures as well. We will use them later.
❦ Secret #3: Direction of Light ❦
Before we start, this is going to be a long section. Direction of light plays a key role in picture taking. If your mind is jello, stop for the day and pick it up tomorrow. I want you to learn as much as possible and soak it all in! If you are ready and charged, here we go‼️
TIP: Remember the direction the light is coming, what part of the pet the light hits first, will be the strongest light. The light with taper off to darkness.
Direction of light plays a key roll in your image. There are four directions of light that play a major part in the your image. You have probably used all of them but don’t realize you have. Each direction of light will cause your image to have shadows and light in different areas, causing the mood of the image to change drastically. I believe again it is a matter of your personal preference, in which you will enjoy and love.
My personal favorite is side light but I use a reflector to add just a little more light on the opposite side the light is coming from. I like the dramatic look of the image. The other two I use sometimes are back light and overhead light. I love both of them with pets. Overhead Lighting gives you a airy dreamy clean look & it looks beautiful. Back Lighting, I like using outdoors because during the Golden Hour, it wraps around your pet and shows the outline of your pet and every hair. They are gorgeous images.
Now, let look deeply into each of the four: Side Lighting, Back Lighting, Overhead Lighting & Front Lighting of your pet.
This is my favorite lighting for my images. If you are looking at one of my indoor images, it is lite by Side Lighting. Side Lighting gives an image a more dramatic look, putting shadows in areas. I like how it gives an image a 3D look.
Side Light is just how it sounds, the light source is hitting the subject from one direction. If the darkness is too dark on the side the light is not directly coming from, that tinfoil/paper I mentioned earlier, will add extra light.
There are different ways you can produce your Side Lighting. You can have a stream of light, meaning light that brushes the front portion of the body or you can have a wide beam of light, this will light the subject and background, engulfing the subject all around. Does that make sense? Again, what you choose to do in your images is a personal preference. When practicing, try lining your pup up on the wall with window light hitting them from the side. Put only have half of your pets body in the direct light & take a picture. Next place you pet’s whole body next to the window, where the light is hitting them from the side. Which image do you prefer? Why do you like one over the other? Do you want more light or less light? Do you like how the shadows are on the opposite side of the face that the light isn’t hitting? Do you like the lighting with the reflector?
Here is a link to a very very simple diagram of side lighting. In simple terms, the phone would be where you are standing and the circle with the heart would be your subject. The light would come from either direction, it just would depend on which direction your window is. The bottom two images show how the lighting would disperse when you have a wall and a portion of your pet is in the light vs. your whole pet being in the side light.
It is exactly how it sounds. This is where the light source is coming directly over the subject. This picture is a dramatic version of Overhead Lighting. Notice most of the light will hit the top of the pet and feather down to dark. Like Side Lighting, your light source, depending on how wide it is & the placement of the light, will depend on how much light will be on the subject feathering down.
Unlike Side Light, I never have used a reflector to light the subject more from the bottom of the image. When photographing a human subject, I have see light reflecting back up. It is used for all of us older ladies and gentlemen to help with wrinkles and other issues we may have.
An example where Overhead Lighting is seen a lot is outdoor images with the sun. When the sun is high in the sky, it is above the head. Inside, if you pet is sitting directly under a window, this is Overhead Lighting.
Lets also think about this with Overhead Lighting. If the Overhead Lighting is placed toward the front portion of the pet, the back portion of the pet will be darker, or have shadows. If the light is placed towards the back of the pet, the front side, face and chest area, will have less light and be darker, (shadows). It is the same concept as Side Lighting but overhead instead of coming from the side. How much light and where the light is place depends on what? It depends on your personal preference and what speaks to you.
Below is a link to a simple diagram of Overhead Lighting. The pet is like you are viewing from above them. The lighting is spraying on the top of their head and outward.
This image was a pretty good image showing Back Lighting. It is exactly how it sounds, the majority of the light is coming from behind the subject. As you can see in the image, the face area is darker and you can see shadows. If the pet was sitting up, the face, and chest area would have the shadows.
I love Back Light during the Golden Hour. The orange sun shining from behind the pet is gorgeous. It makes for such a moody image and capturing that sunset from behind is amazing. The light wraps around to the front of your pet and shows every little hair & whisker. Lighting coming from behind a pet, to me, gives the image a dreamy look by the way the light wraps around the subject.
For indoors, to get Back Lighting, sit your pet in front of the light source, where the light source is directly hitting on the back of your pet.
Like Side Lighting, if you would like a little more light on the face and chest of the pet, guess what you do? Take that tinfoil or paper and hold it in front of them.
NOTE: I keep telling you to use tinfoil or a white sheet of paper. I want to give you something that everyone has lying around their house. That way you will have everything you need to take phone pictures. If you want to splurge and get a reflector, you can get them as low as $15 on Amazon.
Here is a link to a diagram of Back Lighting. The light is coming from behind of your pet.
As seen in this picture, the subject and the pup are being lite by the light on there faces. The angle is different, instead of standing right in front of them, you are taking the picture from the side.
With front lighting, the image is evenly lite. The darkening or shadows will be the backside of the image and background. Without getting too technical, the pet will be crisp.
This is not personally my favorite because I use shadows to add mood to an image. But there are a lot of photographers that use this type of lighting because it is clean and evenly lite.
The pros to this type of lighting is that the pet is evenly lite. The look is commercially looking. This is a very popular way to photograph. A con would be if the light is too bright, your pet may squint due to the light.
Below is a digram of Front Lighting. Basically, you will have the light hitting your pet directly in front of them.
Now lets take a picture of all the lighting set ups with your pet. Study the images. Which do you like it? Is the light positioned where you like it? Keep the images, we will come back to it later.
❦ Secret #4: Mindful: Another looking into lighting images ❦
We have learned about Natural vs Artificial Light. We have learned about Flash and we have learned about the direction of lighting. Are you still with me? I wanted to give you a few things that I think about when I look at lighting.
Each time I take a picture there is a story I am trying to tell. I am not saying a long story about some amazing thing about my pet. Just a simple story about their day. But each time I take a picture, I think about my camera position, what angle would look best for the picture and where is my lighting. Here are some things to think about when you go to take a picture. I can tell you after doing them for a period of time, they become second nature. You don’t think about it for long periods of time. You just scan the room, think about the position and take the picture.
Noise and Grain. Simply, this is what lowers the quality of the image. Noise or Grain looks like little spots all over your image. So much that the image quality is bad and the image may seem faint and blurry. It is caused by not having enough light on the pet. It can cause you to loose quality in the image, along with some of the image being so dark that you cannot tell where the pet ends and the background begins. It can be fixed my adding more light to the room, using a flash or getting that reflector out and popping that light back onto the pet. Take a test shot. Is it too dark? If it is, how can you add light back to the image?
Another problem that is found in images is they are, what photographers call,”blown out”. This means there is too much light on the pet. Like we talked about with flash and hotspots. Too much light can cause this and you will also lose detail in your images on the fur most of the time. Most of the time you see this in white dogs. The sun will hit the fur so hard that the fur is just a spot of bright white. I am better with it now but dogs that are lighter, it happened every time when I was starting out. Remember a little light goes a long way, especially for light colored dogs.
So how do you fix an image that would be too dark or blown out. For darker images, you will place them closer to the light source or add a light source. This will get rid of that noise. For blown out images, you would take them away from the light source. Or another trick, defuse the light. What does that mean? Make the light not as bright. You can do this by taking the picture during a different time of day or adding something in front of the light to make it less harsh. A really cheap trick is using a sheer white curtain. It will lessen the light coming in and it actually makes the individual look soft, not at harsh. When light hits you pet differently during certain times of day, it adds an unwanted look to the fur. By adding a sheer to the window, it will make the image more dreamy, trust me.
TRICK: Do you have some tulle lying around your house? I want you to take that tulle and put it up close to your lens, the portion of your camera phone where it takes pictures. And take a picture. The image will look dreamy and whimsical. If you are seeing the tulle or more tulle color verse your pet, take away some of the tulle. Just a little different look, if you are looking for something a little different.
Something I want to mention because I feel it adds to the image. When you are looking at an image, look to see if there is, what is called catch light in the eyes. Catch light is the white that reflects in your pets eyes from your light source. The catch light in an image adds liveliness to an image. It brings out the pet’s eyes instead of just dark. Look at the three images below, one has the catch light in the eyes, one does not and one has catch light in one eye but not the other. What do you think? Do you see how catch light can add to the feel of an image?
When you are taking an image of your pet, are you always standing up with your pet in front of you? It is amazing the difference you can get from being at eye level with them. Its more personal and it doesn’t appear that you are over dominating them. Pets aren’t like humans, well they do have good and bad angles, but try putting your pet in a chair and you getting at their eye level. Or try bending down and shooting the picture upward. Try standing directly over them shooting above verse standing back from them. Plus by doing this, it will change the angle of the light hitting your pet. You may get a mixture of the light coming from the side and overhead or back and front. Play around and see what you can create.
♡ HOMEWORK ♡
Last set of homework. I learned so much by doing, that is why I have created this homework. I want you to create an image using all of the ideas and lessons we have learned. I want you to pick your favorite type of lighting, your favorite angle & use your tips and tricks you have learned. Put all your favorites together in one picture. Think about all of the sections, I will wait….
Now, lets take out all of those pictures you have taken so far. And I really hope you have done the homework as we have gone through. By doing, you will get better. Okay enough of my soapbox….
Lets compare the first two images. Are you drawn to natural light or artificial light in them. Whichever you are, most of your images that you create indoors will consist of it. Mark that down.
Lets look at the images with or without the flash. Which did you like? Did you try defusing the flash a little? Did you like that? You now know whether you like pictures with or without a flash. You now know your preference and each time you take a picture, you know to turn on the flash, turn it off or to defuse it.
Look at the images you took of different lighting. Which one was your favorite to your least favorite. Most likely your favorite, you will shoot to use every time you take a picture indoors. We are creatures of habit. With everything you have learned, why is it your favorite? Is it the shadows or the catch light? Is it the dreamy look or moody feel? Your preferences, are what will make your pictures uniquely yours.
Now go back to the natural light vs. artificial light picture. Pick whichever was your favorite. Take the last picture you took, the one with all the steps in it. Compare the two. Can you already see a difference? Taking pictures takes time. I did not get to where I am now overnight. It is repetition and learning tips & tricks like I have shown you here today. Keep with it!
We have been through a lot of information. I am sure more than you thought from just entering your email address‼️ But here we are and I hope you have enjoyed learning this. There is so much to learn about photography but lighting is one of the most important steps in taking good pictures from your camera phone. Ones that you will love and be proud of. I would love to see your before and after pictures; I would love to post them below! Please feel free to contact me about any of the information you have learned. In the future, I hope to have a whole course about camera phone pictures. Until then, be great and dream big!
Do you have questions about the 4 Secrets?❓ Is there anything that I can add to help others⁉️ Please feel free to contact me. I will be happy to answer them for you.
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