1. Techniques

Getting the Most Out of Window Light

Intro by Skip Cohen
I know we don’t usually share a lot of technique tips here in the Marathon blog, but so often, I run across something that’s simply an outstanding “how-to” reminder. Suzette shared this on her blog a few weeks back, and there’s so much to it.
We’re down to the fourth quarter, and most of you are busy as holiday orders start to ramp up. At the same time, you’ve got portrait sessions being booked, and your clients deserve your very best skills.
As I’ve written so many times in the past – your goal is to exceed client expectations and make yourself habit-forming. Suzette’s blog posts are always filled with ideas to help do just that!

By Suzette Allen

We recently did an event at Camera West in Walnut Creek, CA, which is a truly lovely store with amazing windows and light. It is up a few floors, and the light streaming through the windows is perfect for portraits. Our stunning model, Bri, (@dietpepsbri) was a pleasure to work with and the students got some great images with the Lumix S1 full-frame cameras.

In this blog, I want to not only point out the beautiful quality of light in the window, (a Rembrandt pattern of light on her face) but the placement of not only the reflector but where we had her stand. Many photographers make the mistake of posing a person next to the window for full light, but the light is actually much better if the subject is posed at the back edge of the window, allowing the full width of the window to be in front of them. I’m not suggesting that light bends or wraps, but the light does illuminate the face more smoothly with a softer falloff from light to shadow. The shadow was still somewhat dark, so we placed a reflector to bounce light into the shadow side.

Again, photographers often make the mistake of placing the reflector alongside the model, too. But again, it is much more effective when placed in front of them, allowing the light to bounce and fill in as shown.
In both cases, Brianna is posed with windows and reflectors considerably in front of her. In the first example, her nose is turned toward the light (window) for a beautiful short (flattering) light and Rembrandt pattern on the face. For this example in cool tone B&W, her face is more parallel to the window (nose facing forward) giving it a split light. The reflector effectively lights the shadow side for a lovely light ratio and mood. This is an example of leveraging natural light and making it better for stunning portraiture!