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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D7100 golden hour and bar samples (11 of 13)ISO 4001-200 sec at f - 4.0

The Golden Hour: it’s one of the times that photographers talk about the most. If you’re new to shooting, this is a time when the Earth is bathed in lots of golden and orange natural light. Think about all the times in the movies when you’ve seen a couple romantically watching the sunset or the sunrise together. This romantic moment isn’t just because of the bond between the couple but also because of the fact that this daily occurrence is such a jaw-droppingly beautiful one.

So, are you ready to shoot?

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Pro Tip: Despite the fact that we all love bokeh, don't ever let it get in the way of good composition and an even better vision for the end result.

Pro Tip: Despite the fact that we all love bokeh, don’t ever let it get in the way of good composition and an even better vision for the end result.

Sometimes you don’t always feel like toting around strobes and in many situations you downright don’t need them. Even though they can make any image better there are lots of times where it’s just easier to work with natural light. If you’re a portraitist, knowing how to make the best of the light vs being a hipster with a camera wanting to stay true to an ideology and cling to it without any other real experience is something that you’ll want to have in your bag of tricks.

Here are a couple of ways to make better use of natural lighting.

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony hvlf60m flash uses (1 of 5)ISO 16001-40 sec at f - 9.0

Want more Useful Photography Tips? Check them out here.

If you’re starting out as a photographer shooting events or portraits, one of the biggest rookie mistakes made (along with using a Gary Fong Lightsphere incorrectly) is simply pointing a flash directly up towards the ceiling and expecting the best and most perfect results. The problem with this method is that you tend to create unflattering shadows (and there is a difference between flattering and unflattering shadows) on a person’s face and therefore make them look not their best. While many flashes give you a small bounce card, it usually isn’t enough to fill in those shadows either.

In the situation where you don’t have something like a large Rogue FlashBender, we recommend this: point the flash up towards the ceiling and behind you just a tad–then crank up the flash output around 2/3-1 stop brighter. Based on the way that light and flashes work, the ceiling is used to become a main light source as it is illuminated by the flash output. But if you put the light source right above someone’s face, you’ll create shadows underneath. However, if you move it around to above and slightly in front of them, the light will seem a tad more natural.

Pro Tip: We recommend that you communicate with the person that you're photographing first to get insight as to what they want. Some headshots are more corporate oriented while others are for comp cards, actor profiles, and dating websites.

Pro Tip: We recommend that you communicate with the person that you’re photographing first to get insight as to what they want. Some headshots are more corporate oriented while others are for comp cards, actor profiles, and dating websites.

All the technical mavens that have nothing more to do than critique other folks’ photos and not go out creating great work themselves will tell you not to backlight an image. But we’re going to tell you something different–backlight as much as you want. But in the end, create a captivating photo. And though even we may tell you that it’s best to create your own light (and in many situations it really is) we don’t believe in limiting yourself just because you might not have a flash. So to create a better portrait in natural light, you can either wait for the golden/blue hour and give yourself maybe around 15 minutes or so of shooting time or you can go shooting at any time of the day–just as long as you can make the light do what you want it to.

And for that, backlighting is a very viable option.

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IbarionexPerelloThePhoblographerParade08.jpg

Parades are a popular choice for photographers who want to make images of people. However, standing by the sidelines while people march or drive by doesn’t provide the most interesting and engaging photographs. Instead, I prefer to photograph people before and after a parade. It’s then that some of the best images are possible.

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Creating the Photograph is an original series where we interview photographers about a photo that they shot and how it was achieved. The results are some knowledge passed on to you. Want to be featured? Email chrisgampat[at]thephoblographer[dot]com

Nick Fancher is a photographer that specializes in commercial, wedding and product photography. But when browsing through 500px, we found something of his that displays his more personal work. As artists, we often need to not just do the stuff that we do for pay, but we need to try to experiment and develop new ideas and skills. And when we read about how Nick achieved the photo above, we were quite interested.

Here’s Nick’s story.

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