The World As A Studio

by William Lulow

Sounds like a funny title for an article, but I mean it quite literally. Since I am a classically trained photographer (one who is an expert with all the lightings used in studio photography both old and new), I am always looking for lighting situations that I can use to mimic my studio setups. The reason is so that I can manipulate the light enough to produce studio-quality pictures. Here is an example of what I mean: we were babysitting a friend’s one-year-old daughter. She had these big brown eyes and she was exceptionally well-behaved for a baby who didn’t really know us. I saw that she had these great expressions of wonderment for such a little baby. I would have loved to let her crawl around on a white no-seam background and get some great shots (something I may do later), but at that moment, I had to find another way to photograph her with some interesting lighting. She happened to be sitting on a bed, playing with the pillow. Without even changing her position, I changed mine, so that the window light was behind her. I just turned on the built-in flash (didn’t even have time to set up a real fill-in light) and made a few exposures. I loved the way the light streamed in from the window and highlighted her little wisps of hair.


So, even though this is not one of my “perfect” child portraits, it has captured something with the eyes and the strong backlight. (Shot with a 60mm macro lens, f/5.6 at 1/50th of a second, 2000 ISO, built-in flash fill). That ISO setting is much higher than I would normally use, but I wanted to make sure there was enough light overall and that I could shoot a couple of stops down from wide open.

Sometimes when you see a good lighting setup, you need to grab it! You can’t always wait for the perfect studio setup, but if you know your lighting, you can change your camera position, exposures and light that you do have available to make a great picture.