When shooting indoors, we gravitate towards our only source of natural daylight, windows! Shooting with window light is a great way to keep yourself shooting all year round, even during rainy weather. However, the way you position your subject can play a major role on the outcome of an image.
The images below are shot using the same window. The image on the left is back lit, and the image on the right is side lit. Just a simple angle change will reflect a nice, even light on your subject, opening up the shadows on their face. When we move our subjects or camera angle instead of changing camera settings, we’ll get a more consistent look from image to image. It’s all about seeing how the light is going to fall.
Another way of utilizing window light is by angling our subject straight on. This may seem contrary to the photographer who loves to shoot soft, diffused backlit light. The image below to the left is window light reflecting onto our subject. The image on the right is with the window behind her. However, because the window is our only light source and is right behind our subject, the light will be interpreted on film much darker than if we were outside because you don’t have light coming from 360 degrees around your subject. When backlighting, our subject will naturally be darker, not to mention have warmer color reflections bouncing up onto their face. Instead we recommend turning your subject around to face the window, but position them far enough to get a nice even light. If your subject is too close to the window, you will have more intense light and really high contrast. By turning the angle you’re shooting the reflection won’t be as warm and your shadows will open up.
Everything is easier said then done, so we encourage you to go find some window light and practice!
Image Credit: Heather Moore
Fuji 400H, Contax 645