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Quick Photo Tip: North Light

Thank you Rembrandt.

Thank you Rembrandt.

The next time you want to take a portrait of a friend, relative, spouse, your kids, or your pet, and you either don’t have the right lighting equipment (the flash on your camera is not the right equipment) or you can’t afford it,  think about the best source of light there is…North light.

If you want to find out just how important North light really is, just go to Google and type in North light rental studios in let’s say New York, and you’ll find several to choose from.

Why is North light so sought after?

Let me digress or a moment and say that in 1971 I opened my first studio in the bottom floor of an old house in Houston. I also rented one room upstairs that had a window that faced North. I used that for my only light (I couldn’t afford any lighting)  when I shot portraits. Back then I didn’t realize the importance of North light; the importance being that direct light will never come in the window keeping the quality of the light and color balance the same all day.

My clients (few but growing) loved the way they looked when I put them next to the window while adding a little white reflector on the dark side of their face. Since I studied painting and not photography, I remembered the way Rembrandt painted and now, three hundred and fifty years later, his light is referred to by photographers as Rembrandt lighting.

The above photo of a boxer, his manager, and trainer was shot for Budweiser beer. We had just finished a big production shot that included several hours of setting up lights in a very dimly lit gym in San Antonio. As I was heading to the bathroom I noticed this small window that was facing North. I went back to where we had been shooting, grabbed all three of them and took them back to the window. In a matter of about a minute I had taken a picture that the client wound up using.

What I tell the students that take my online class with the BPSOP, and my fellow photographers that join me in my “Stretching Your frame of Mind” workshops, make like simple for yourself. Find a window in your house that faces North, and try it out for yourself; you’ll be glad you did.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and check out my workshop schedule at the top of this blog. Come shoot with me sometime. On July 30th I begin my 29th year at the Maine Media Workshops. I’ve had the same week since the beginning. It’s the week of the Lobster Festival down the road in Rockland. It offers a completely different set of photo ops than one would expect when coming to photograph the coastline, lighthouses, and fishing villages of Maine. Come join me and spend a week completely immersed in your love for photography.

Keep sending me photos and questions to: AskJoeB@gmail.com, and I’ll create a video critique for you.




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