How To Create A Window Light Effect And Much More (Part 1)

6/29/2012 9:44:41 AM

This issue we look at the best way to shoot indoors without a flash, impoving hard-light images in post-production, how to create a window light effect and much more.

We ask Oli Kellett how to achieve professional lighting indoors without the use of studio flash.

Description: how to achieve professional lighting indoors without the use of studio flash.

It’s very easy to use the excuse of not having certain pieces of equipment to avoid taking photos. Even pro photographers are guilty of this. But photography is all about using light creatively. Light is the only ingredient you need and it shouldn’t really matter where that light comes from. It’s perfectly possible to shoot indoors without flash. Light coming through a window can be hard (direct) or soft (diffused). Direct sunlight will provide a crisp high contrast light with strong dark shadows. If it’s overcast then the light will be much softer with low contrast and low saturation. A model sat at a window is best lit with overcast light, which will give a nice wrap-around effect when balanced with a white reflector on the shadow side. You can use direct sunlight to light a table still life if you time it right and position the table appropriately. This image of the milk carton was shot under strong, direct sunlight though the sun wasn’t directly hitting the curtains. A reflector was used indoors to better balance the contrast by throwing light into the milk carton and the rest of the interior. The exposure was set to allow the light coming in through the window to burn out into nothingness.

Window light effect

Description: Window light effect


I’d like to create an effect with studio flash to suggest that light is coming through a window to light a model in a room. I have two Bowens flash heads. How can this be accomplished?


Achieve this with a single light. The easiest method is to shoot on the ground floor and place a light outside an actual window using an extension cable. Put it at least couple of metres away from the window so the light is relatively even and then angle it so suit. If placing a light outdoors isn’t possible, you’ll need to build a fake wall. Buy some polystyrene board from a DIY store, 8ft x 4ft and 50mm thick. Cut a window outline using a craft knife then use strips of gaffa tape to create the pane divides – the more the better. You can hang black felt or crushed-velvet material to block off any light that might creep around the sides of the board. You light should be as far from the wall as possible and the wall relatively close to your subject; the room should be a decent size.

Wireless flash trigger

Description: Wireless flash trigger

Question: I have a set of Elinchrom lights and the Prolinca infrared trigger that came with it. Sometimes the trigger doesn’t activate the light and I have to use the sync cord. What am I doing wrong?

Answer: Infrared technology is essentially line of sight, meaning that the trigger has to be in a position to see the flash head to fire it, or at least there needs to be proximate walls for the light to bounce off and hit the flash head’s slave cell. If this isn’t possible, one wireless alternative is to have a second light close by, aiming at the main light that isn’t triggering. Your infrared (IR) trigger will fire the second. Alternatively, you’ll need to invest in a triggering system based on radio technology, such as the PocketWizard Plus II or the Elinchrom Skyport Speed Universal.

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