Available light on location. (NSFO)


I am so used to hauling my lights and backgrounds for inside location sessions, that using available light was fading away for me. Well, the other day, I thought I was doing another indoor session in an empty apartment downstairs from Suanne’s apartment. She lives in an older home that has been converted to 3 apartments. And they all have that old-time look with the wood floors and deep set tall windows.

When I arrived, I wasn’t sure if the empty apartment had electricity. It did not, so available light shooting is was. The large living room had 4 large tall windows with Japanese style window treatments, and the light was very soft but contrasty, being early morning. Suanne was wearing a black skirt and black top, and had a great tan, (she works in a tanning salon).

Olympus OMD E-M5, Panasonic G 20mm f/1.7 ASPH

My first pose had to be in front of the the double window. I used spot metering on Suanne, and adjusted the exposure compensation to make she was correctly exposed. I knew the window would be blown out. But, I wanted it that anyway. I was really pleased with the final cut I posted above. It has a “Arty” flavor to it, which I like. some of the poses I did where to simulate someone who was hot, and the air conditioner broken, and just trying to “Chill” in the cool area of the day.

These are NSFO.  I used an 8′ ladder for these, and a my Panasonic G 20mm or Olympus M Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 MkI. Auto ISO “200-3200”

Olympus OMD E-M5, Olympus M Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 MkI
Olympus OMD E-M5, Panasonic G 20mm f/1.7 ASPH
Olympus OMD E-M5, Panasonic G 20mm f/1.7 ASPH

The next set was with a Nikon 55mm f/3.5 Micro Nikkor

Olympus OMD E-M5, Nikon 55mm f/3.5 Micro Nikkor
Olympus OMD E-M5, Nikon 55mm f/3.5 Micro Nikkor

A few more with the window

Olympus OMD E-M5, Panasonic G 20mm f/1.7 ASPH
Olympus OMD E-M5, Panasonic G 20mm f/1.7 ASPH

So a few available light tips.

  • Use “Aperture” priority mode
  • with a heavily back-lit subject (like from a window behind them), use Spot Metering, and lock it. Then adjust the Exposure Compensation until the subject has a good exposure without being back lit.
  • Use Auto-ISO for the best results. Take a few readings without taking a photograph, at a few f/stops to see what is needed to hold at least 1/60s shutter speed. Just aim the camera at different areas you may photograph and watch the shutter speed changing as you move around. This will aide you determining what Highest ISO to set as the high limit, and give you an idea of what f/stops are usable in different areas.

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