How to infuse Creativity into your Photographs when Light is not Ideal

Aug 18, 2020

Life happens, and it should, at all hours of the day. Many beautiful moments in my life occur outside of perfect lighting conditions. Yes, I have my favourite types of light, but I've come to embrace all kinds and see value in learning and then working with light outside of the ideal. One of my goals as a photographer is to document my children's childhood memories but infuse creativity into those images. Lighting conditions outside of the ideal have helped me learn more about working with less than ideal lighting conditions and embracing creativity. It is possible to take creative images in less than ideal lighting situations.  

 1. Create a sunburst

Full sun can be intimidating. There are bright overpowering highlights and deep dark shadows to manage. It is, however, possible to beautifully photograph your memories in full sun. One of my favourite ways to infuse creativity into my images when the sun is at its peak is to shoot for a sunburst. A sunburst can be captured when the sun is visible or mostly visible in your frame. To effectively capture the best sunburst possible, you'll want to dial in a small aperture. A small aperture creates a sharper sunburst due to how light refracts when it enters through the narrow aperture opening. I usually use an aperture of f16 through f22 when I am intentionally trying to capture a starburst. Balance out your exposure with the appropriate shutter speed and ISO settings to attain good exposure.   

ISO 200, 16mm, f22, 1/320SS

2. Look for creative light 

There are many possibilities for creative light, both indoors and outdoors. I love dappled light outdoors. I think it can make for the most beautiful creative light. Dappled light can often be found when light is less than ideal, like during full sun. I like to look for dappled light inside of forests when we are outdoors, but it's a great idea to keep an eye out for dappled light in general because it can present itself in many different contexts.

ISO 100, 35mm, f3.5, 1/1250SS

3. Look for a compelling mood 

It's not just full sun that is considered less than ideal. Overcast days or flat light aren't always favourite lighting for photographers either. When light is even, I like to look for situations where I can enhance mood within my images, whether that's a stormy sky or some other dramatic element.

ISO 1000, 25mm, f4, 1/250SS

4. Find a unique perspective 

Sometimes a unique perspective or change in angle is all you need to infuse a touch of creativity into your image when light is less than ideal. I often like to use my subject to block out intense sunlight. Usually, this will create a burst of light, infusing fun and dynamic light in my image with a touch of creativity. 

5. Use a creative technique 

Nothing is more creative than intentional creativity. Many different creative lenses are available to the photographer, such as lenses in the Lensbaby line, tilt-shifts or freelensing. You also have other options for creativity, such as shooting through objects like flowers or shrubbery. Other creative techniques you could try are prism use or copper or plastic tubing. Never be afraid to experiment and try something new, as this will undoubtedly result in an infusion of creativity within your images. 

ISO 100, 50mm, Freelensed, 1/6400SS

When light is less than ideal, it can be hard to infuse creativity into an image. Don't be afraid to think outside of your ordinary and experiment with light and creativity. You might come up with something that fits your photography style and, in your experimentation, learn new techniques that'll help you grow your photography skills.  


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