Bright pictures with no flash: how?

Discussion in 'Portraits and Fashion' started by iris_van_den_broek, May 2, 2012.

  1. What I see a lot these days are very bright, colorful pictures of weddings and children where the photographer claims to not have used any form of flash, hence: only used natural light.
    I really love the fresh feel that is in these pictures but am not sure how to obtain the same result in my own photos. How do you meter for this? And how is it that the background is so bright and colorful but the subject is perfectly lit as well?
    When I try something like this I meter for the background and then use fill flash, I don't know how to do it without flash.
    Is this a lot of post processing in photoshop or is this just a technique I need to learn to master?
    This is kind of what I mean:
    Could anyone here explain what to do with metering and what to do afterwards in Photoshop to get images like this? Thank you very much!
    Images removed. Per the Terms of Use, do not post photos that you did not take. Feel free to post links to the images in their original location below.
  2. Posting photos that are not your own is a violation of the terms of service. Please provide links to photos, not the photos themselves.
  3. On the train photos, I don't see that anything special was done. The couple are in soft light out of the direct sunlight that is hiting the trees in the background, so he's got good light on them and simply exposed normally. The background (trees) is not balanced at all -- it's overexposed and partially washed out. With the baby, it's soft light against a dark background. There is a shadow at the top left of the suitcase that could be "burned in" with Photoshop (or the same could be done in a regular darkroom) or it could just be a shadow from the way the light was hitting it. Girl with hat clearly has some fill coming into her face. You can see the reflection of something in the lower right corner of each eye. Looks like he was using a reflector. Overall I don't see anything unusual in any of these.
  4. Can't tell what is going on without seeing the pictures, but you could bump up the exposure a little bit during capture, adjust it post capture with curves and levels, or blending modes in PS. Also could be using a camera capable of high ISO performance that enables better exposure lattitude.. again, can't tell when I can't see the picture.
  5. I have not seen your sample picture, but one "easy" way to get great light on a sunny day. The trick is to "break" the light close to the subject a semi transparent fabric works fine. when the light pass trough something or bounce against something some of the rays will get anew direction this make some light go in to the shadows and give you smooth transition and beautiful light with no flash. and it balance very well with the ambient light.
    Take a look at this for some samples and a better explanation.
  6. Sorry have been away for a couple of days and see the images were removed. Did not know about the "linking only"rule so excuse me for that!
    Anyway: I can't find the exact photos anymore but here is a link to a series of photos that kind of show what I mean
    I love how the face of the girl is lit up and bright in every shot but the background is also very dreamy with the sunlight and everything.
    Do you think she used reflectors to get this result?
  7. I don't see anything special about the lighting. As I indicated in an earlier reply, slight overexposure of the subject or level and curves adjustment will give the light you describe.
  8. Well, I wasn't saying there was something unusual about the lighting
    I was just wondering how to get it like that, since my photos don't turn out like that straight out of the camera.
    But if I understand you correctly I should just measure the light on the subjects face and then overexpose a little. My problem with this is, that a lot of times the background will be too overexposed then and lose the detail and colors.
    In the pictures in the link that does not seem the case, so that was why I was wondering if anything special was done.
  9. If you take pictures in a very contrasty situation, bright sky etc, look into a graduated neutral density filter....
  10. Spot metering the subject might help.
  11. Hi Iris, I am also curious as to what technique is used to get some of those dreamy looks we see a lot in those hip wedding photos these days.
    Frankly I don't think the posters responding that they see nothing special with the light actually have a clear idea of how it's done.
    The answers you are probably looking for (and which I can not give) are likely related to time of day, sun direction, placement of subject to modify existing light (example: between trees to subtract light and make it more directional), how to meter exposure, color correction, white balance, dodging and burning, etc. I also think wardrobe and background choice play a large part.
  12. Thanks!
    I have been trying a few things
    I spotmetered on the face and slightly overexposed. That did, indeed, give me the nice bright faces I was looking for. However: as I said the background completely blows out since the background is often lighter than the subject in the picture.
    When I try to get back the background and therefore use a faster shutterspeed, the background gets more detail but then I lose the nice bright faces since they get a little underexposed then.
    To the people who say they see nothgin unusual about the lighting in the link I posted: can anyone explain in detail then what was done there??
    Because I am not getting photos like that straight out of my camera by just measuring the light on the subjects face (like some of you suggest is the simple solution)
  13. CM: "... Frankly I don't think the posters responding that they see nothing special with the light actually have a clear idea of how it's done. ..."
    I agree completely, Christian. This is exactly why I always prefer responders to questions in this forum show an actual example of what they are proposing, not just summarize their approach in a few words. For example, the image of the groomsmen that was posted, to me, does not look at all like the images in the Amanda Keeys website. Yes, the faces are bright, but none of the other aspects of the Keeys' images were reproduced.
    Unfortunately, I never saw the first image that the OP posted, so I can't speak to that one, but for the images in the link she posted to Amanda Keeys' website, IMHO, all of these images clearly employed multiple post processing steps, not just techniques like using a wide open tele, scrims and spot metering.
    Most of Amanda's images seem to be based on softly selecting the area around the subject and then giving it more brightness, global and local contrast, giving it a bit of extra sharpening, a touch of yellow hilights (to simulate the sun), etc. etc. In addition, the edges of most of the photos I quickly browsed through show a bit of luminosity vignetting and softening.
    This is not to say that at least some of these effects could be done optically or with classical printing techniques, but given that Amanda sells (and gives away) Photoshop actions (, I'd say that the chances are 99.999% that most of the effects were done digitally.
    @Iris - Why don't you post one of your images (normally exposed, straight out of your camera) that is similar in composition and basic lighting to one of the images in your link and we'll see what we can do with it in post processing.
    Tom M
  14. Just a suggestion: pay particular attention to the direction of the light in any situation. The dominant light will be coming from a certain direction and that is where you usually want your subject to be facing in general. It doesn't matter if this is a window when indoors, or the sky, or some sunlight bouncing off a nearby house. It can be very subtle, but light always comes from a certain direction and you need to be very aware of it. Look at my images, particularly portraits to see what I am talking about.

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