07 September 2011

How To Take Pictures Without Natural Light

I live in a basement apartment, with north and west-facing windows.  And around the north and west sides of the house are lots of trees.  And a deck, up on the main floor.  And I do a lot of my crafting after Boo goes to bed.

Why am I telling you this?  Well, because it is really hard to take nice pictures with little-to-no natural light!

But I figured out a way to get nice lighting for finished projects, fun objects--generally anything reasonably small.  And stationary.  (Sorry, Boo.  I guess you still get the unflattering overhead lighting.  Or the regular camera flash.  But you're cute enough to pull it off.)  With a couple adjustments, I bet I could use this set-up for my how-to shots, too.

So, what do you think of that picture?  Not bad for having been taken at 9:30 at night (in a basement apartment, surrounded by trees, with no hope of natural light).

Want to know how I did it?  It was really easy, and I just used things I already had hanging around my apartment.

You need:
a desk lamp
some white fabric

some white paper/foam core board, etc to bounce light back to your object
something for a background and for the object to sit on.  I used white paper, because I needed all the light I could to be bounce back to my object (my fabric for my new project!).

Here's the set up.  In case you're wondering, that is my kitchen table I used to hold up my fabric.  I'll figure out something more portable later.

My desk lamp is sitting behind the fabric, which is just plain white muslin I bought for practicing clothes pattern I designed.  (Hopefully I can get one of those posted soon!  I'm working on my first skirt!)  The fabric softens the light, so you don't get the harsh shadows and overexposed highlights.

I used white paper for my background, but other colors would work great, too.  Pretty scrapbook paper would work, or some colored fabric...

 I'm really pleased with the way this worked out.  I did have to raise the exposure in Photoshop, but a stronger lamp or more ambient light will probably do the trick, too.

Now, are you wondering what I'm going to do with this fabric?  Stay tuned...

Happy crafting.

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