Learn :: Create a Beautiful Photograph


Okay, so you know that investing in a digital SLR camera will make your photos better. And you've bought one. Now what? Erin Walker is here to help. Erin is trained in photojournalism, graphic design, and photography, and she's on a mission to change the photography community in Edmonton. 

Erin believes the more knowledge we share, the more successful everyone will be. We celebrate this collaborative spirit and welcome Erin's expertise to a small series where you can learn a thing or two about using your SLR camera and putting together a great shot.

Lesson 1: Lighting

Light makes a photo beautiful. If you can see and understand how to use light in a photo, the rest (shutter speed, iso and aperture) can easily come together.

How can light be used to create a beautiful photo?
The mood of a photo can be completely determined by light (light-hearted, dramatic, and everything in between). It can influence the depth, colour, mood, & focus of a photograph. Light that hits the subject straight on can create a dramatic or intense look. Soft light minimizes shadows and contrast, creating smooth, pretty skin and an even tone to the subject in a photograph. Backlight can give a photo depth and impact. 

What’s the best way to learn about light?
Start by noticing light at different times of day. What does it look like in the morning? At noon? In the evening? What does light look like on a cloudy day? From there, experiment with where you stand in relation to light when you take a picture and notice how it changes the photograph. Try taking a photo when the sun is directly shining towards you, and then turn around and take a photo of the subject when the light is behind you. Practice! The more you practice seeing light, and knowing what direction it is coming from, the quicker you can learn to use the light to create a beautiful photo!

What are some examples of each type of lighting?

Try this exercise to practice working with natural light!

  1. Find a subject to photograph (a person, an object, whatever you like!)
  2. Bring your subject to a window, place it right at the corner of the window, as shown in the photo below.
  3. Now take a few photos of the object from different directions. First, stand parallel to the window and take a photo of the subject. This is an example of soft light.
  4. Next, take a photo directly facing the window. This is an example of backlight.
  5. Lastly, try to squeeze between the window and the object, & without blocking the light, take a photo of your subject. This is an example of direct light, especially if it’s a sunny day outside!
  6. Now, download the photos to your computer or print them out and look at them side-by-side. Which one do you like the best? Do you notice the mood each photo brings?

Erin puts her money where her mouth is - she's put together lovely Photography Workshops to share her "secrets" to success. The beginner workshop is on February 23rd. If you've already got the basics figured out, the intermediate workshop in March shows you how to edit your photos. She's keeping the groups small and intimate with cute snacks and lots of hands on activity to encourage creativity. Sign up quick, spots are limited!