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Lighting small things

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  • Lighting small things

    I look at lots of images taken by crafters and the predominant way that the artefacts are being lit is by window light.

    Now I don’t have a problem with window light as it produces some wonderfully dramatic portrait lighting, but it isn’t the lighting you want for this kind of still life photography. For small items it needs to be controlled by making it less directional and to do this easily and cheaply we would use reflectors and mirrors. It would also be possible to do this with a table lamp but then there would be some problems with the white balance across the image.

    By far the best way is to use reflectors. A reflector can be made from white card or paper or even a sheet of newspaper (though this would not be as affective as plain white paper). All you are trying to do is to balance out the light from one side of the image to the other. If the lighting is balanced then the shadows will be softer and in essence make the image less contrasty and the whites less liable to ‘burn out’.

    Rather than have the object’s face side in shadow arrange so that the face is turned slightly toward the light and then place your reflector at the same angle as the window but on the other side of the object. This will then reflect the light back onto the face and balance up the lighting on the image.

    If you decided to use a mirror then the effect would be greater and if you move the mirror or reflector round you will find that you can get a very even illumination over the object you want to photograph. If you move the reflector nearer then the effect will be greater, you can go in quite close to the object and crop out anything in the image that you don’t want to see latter.

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