Things You Can Do With A Window

I know - we all know this and we all love our gear and our gadgets but sometimes less is actually more. Not always just sometimes. I thought I would remind everyone out there in photography land that sometimes the simplest approach can be the best. Take lighting for instance. I know it's all the rage for everyone to get a bunch of small strobes and do all kind of whacky things with them off camera, or to just make sure that you have a bunch of shadow detail everywhere with auto fill-flash. Take a break from all the complexity and the fiddling around every once in a while. You might be happy with the results.

Use a window - the results can be really really nice. Trust me - one of the hardest things to fake is real honest to god north light from a window. There are reasons for this that I won't go into but does it really matter? Windows are fairly reliable devices during the day time - you can find them just about everywhere. They maybe a little variable in size and the light coming through them might be not exactly what you want at the moment but if you go to the other side of whatever building you happen to be in it will be completely different - sun on one side shade on the other. Have the high-noon doldrums? Go inside the window light at mid-day is fantastic - all the crap is lit up outside and the light coming in through the windows is brighter than strait "north light" that comes from the sky but the effect is almost identical.

Don't even bother with a reflector - screw with your ratios by moving closer or farther away from the window. The shot above was done after a long day shooting with strobes - guess which ones I liked the best? Yep the simple window lit shots. Every once in a while I shot for a client - high impact, lots of lights, lots of mid tone contrast, loud images, and then a couple of quieter window lit images - every once in a while I actually included them with the full on studio stuff. Every once in a while they ended up being the images used.

As you can see I like a bit of contrast  and let the shadows go black - this is easy. Get really close to the window and make sure you are in a larger room, especially if it is painted white like this one. If the room is painted dark you end up with high contrast no matter what if you don't use a reflector for fill.

Put away the flashes and give it a spin. You could spend a life time with just a couple of different windows at different times of day and get unbelievable results - if you get bored go ahead and through in a reflector. Someday I am going to do a lighting workshop on just window light - I wonder if anyone would come?


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