Photography Tutorial: Essential Photo Skills That Will Quickly Transform Your Photos

Photography Tutorial: Essential Photo Skills That Will Quickly Transform Your Photos

Light is the magical stuff that we use
to create our pictures. It’s found all around us and comes from a variety of
sources both natural and man-made. It also comes in many forms and colours, each
one affecting the atmosphere of our pictures differently. To help us
understand light I’ve broken it down into four main categories: transmitted
light, reflected light, soft light and hard light. Hard light comes from any
light source that is apparently small. Now the sun on a clear day is a prime
example. Now we know the sun’s not actually small but it appears small
because it’s so far away and it acts like an extremely bright but small light
bulb in the sky. Soft light comes from any light source that has a large
apparent surface area. Now a great example of that is like the light we’ve
got right now and that’s where the sun is shining through an overcast sky or a
large blanket of cloud and that large blanket of cloud has now become the
large light source and that large light source is what’s giving us the soft
light. The characteristics of hard light are that it has a very high contrast
because that high contrast it gives very sharp hard-edged shadows. It also has a
certain sparkle and sharpness to the light because of the high contrast and
it also reveals texture very strongly if the light source is at the right angle,
whereas soft light is very low in contrast and hardly gives any shadows at
all. In actual fact if soft light is used
incorrectly it can look quite dull. So what type of light is best for
photography? Well right now is what photographers call the ‘Magic Hour’ and
that’s because it has all the magic ingredients. We’ve got soft light from
this large light source above us which is the sky, but we’ve also got hard light
from the sun which is setting over there and it’s cutting through the earth’s
atmosphere so it’s reduced in intensity to a much more manageable level and by
combining hard light and soft light makes the photographs much more
interesting. Now to add to that we’ve also got transmitted light and that
means we can see the light source in the picture, plus we’ve got reflected light
reflecting off the surface of the water and off the wet sand and by putting all
of those things together we’re going to get a fantastic image, and if I can just
get this piece of driftwood to stay still I think we’re going to get the
shot that we want. That’s coming together really nicely, just going to move that
over a little bit. Some beautiful reflections off of the bit of wood, it’s
a little bit too close, just going to move it back down there. I want to be
quite precise.Oh no, she moved out the way again! Oh still that’s quite a good
result quite, a good result. We’ve got the water flowing by, got the bit of wood. As you can see sometimes you need to get
your feet wet to get the best shot. For this shot I was using a super wide
angle lens and experimenting in manual mode with shutter speeds from one to six
seconds. I used a small aperture for maximum
depth of field. To balance the light in the sky with my dark foreground I use ND
filters, which we look at in depth in our travel and landscape DVD. To understand
light better start looking at it in different situations and try to figure
out what you are seeing – is it hard light or is it soft light or is it a
combination of the two? For the best light try to shoot at least half an hour
before and after sunset, if the weather conditions are right then this will
usually be the most attractive light of the day. We’ll try a couple more shots before we pack
home and I can change out of these wet socks and shoes. Fantastic! The ‘Magic Hour’ is not the only time or
light that we can shoot in. You can even take advantage of hard light at midday
by shooting indoors. I’m going to show you how you can create stunning
portraits with nothing more than a window and a reflector for lighting. Now
a great lighting set-up that you can easily use in many different locations, even in
your own home, is simply a large window. Now here we’ve got Vicky modelling for us
and we’re using this large window light to illuminate soft light all the way
down the side of Vicky’s face. Now one of the problems when you just have side light
like this is that the other side of the body will be in shadow, now a great way
to get around that is simply to use a reflector and reflectors are great tools,
now you can get a variety of different reflectors. This one here is a
commercially available reflector that just pops open like that and you can
take out on location with you and then if you look at Vicky’s face here you’ll
see the difference that that reflector makes as I put that light in and out of
the shot like so, so a huge difference. Now it’s silver on one side and it’s white on
the other so the silver side gives a harsher light, but if you don’t want to
use a reflector like that you can even use something as simple as a piece of
white card like this, here I’ve got a little bit of white board, just a bit of
white foam board, and again watch the result here what we can do there. So this
side of the face is dark and in shadow, simply bring white board in and we’ve
got a great reflector, great fill in panel to illuminate that shadow side for
us. So very simple technique – large window, nice soft light beautiful for portraits,
fantastic for portraits, and then simply a reflector on the other side to fill in
the shadow side. So I’m going to get Vicky leaning in against this window and
then we’re going to use a couple of different reflectors and we’re going to
see what results we get. Okay Vicky. That’s great, come down towards me a bit more. And head over the other way, that’s it. This shot uses a white reflector close
to our subject, here the reflector is further away resulting in less fill
light and more shadows. In this shot no reflector was used at all, and in this
shot the white reflector was close to our model. That’s good. Great. Okay just give me a
little hint of a smile there Vicky, that’s good. Just chuck that light there, perfect. Same
pose, that’s it. The difference without the reflector and then with the
reflector, without, with. And you can see that even without the reflector can be
quite nice, in that case there’s actually a little bit of light bouncing back from
the other side of the room anyway which is filling in a little bit and then on
the one with the reflector it’s almost a bit too strong so I think what we do
Fab is just get you to go in with the white card this time, we’ll just go from a
little bit further away. Much softer light, which is fantastic for filling in
all those creases on Vicky’s face. That’s it good, okay, excellent. I’m just
going to drop that down a little bit. Okay turn your head towards the window
Vicky, that’s it good keep that there. That’s lovely.
You can see from this that the surgeon is going to have to do the reconstructive work round about here and then probably shrink the nose a little bit,
expand the head, lift those out, yeah lift those out, maybe make your fingers longer,
so they they drag on the floor like an orangutan, which would probably suit you quite well but yeah. So I think it’s worked out quite nicely. For the picture on the left we used a white reflector from approximately two
meters away, giving a slight fill to the shadow side of our image. For the shot on
the right the reflector was moved further away, resulting in a stronger
shadow. Notice how in both shots I have used a
large aperture to blur the background, concentrating the attention on our

100 thoughts on “Photography Tutorial: Essential Photo Skills That Will Quickly Transform Your Photos”

  1. i just watched this and out of about 100 videos on how to photograph etc. this is by far the most benificial it taught me so much! going to stalk your videos now and see what other great info i can get to start taking amazing photos

  2. Thanks Karl, I never get bored watching your photo tips. I tend to come back time and again, just for a reminder. Brilliant, thanks again….

  3. Hey Karl Taylor I am a 16 years old guy .I love Photography but I can't afford a camera. I have watched almost all of your videos I just wanted to know if there is anyway I can get a camera for free. If someone gives me an option between my crush and a DSLR then I will obviously choose a DSLR because I love photography so badly..
    waiting for your reply.
    hoping for reply.

  4. don't want to sound bad here but the girl holding that reflector looks prettier and would make better photos than the girl who is posing

  5. hey karl,
    i was looking for a video regarding light and there i found u. after going through so many.
    your's made me understand it just perfect. thanks 🙂

  6. hey sir !! Thanks For the Info It Helps me A lot .. 😍😘😘 I want to be like you Someday . I want to be Professional Photographer LIKE YOU 😍😍😘😘 godbless

  7. Could you tell me what camera and lens were you using in this video and also I have Canon 60 D and want to upgrade. WHICH CAMERA DO U SUGGEST ? THANKS

  8. What type of lens can I make use off with my camera Nikon D90 because I cherish it a lot … pls can you help me with that

  9. can anyone suggest me a good lens for canon who gives awsome blurry backgrond at 50meter far distance from me to object & gives awsome blurry background plzzz suggest me

  10. I was looking at your essentials course but the introduction states that it's for dslr cameras. Will it help with my compact camera?

  11. I have a nikond5500.i learned from you that afs mode & matrix metering is best for beginners to shoot still and steady portrait.
    but which is best setting for few movable portrait ,by which settings movable portrait will be sharp?

  12. Thanks karl for sharing awesome stuff with all of us. You are such a brilliant teacher. Actually I am having a great passion for photography and you can visit my facebook profile named Melissa St. Pierre,


  14. Hlw sir my friend's photography is too damn good but he is confuse should he go for it as career bcoz he is bright student so he is thinking for btech but i recommend him to be a photographer. So please tell me how can i send you his photos sample which was shot by him from his phone

  15. Should snapped away when she was laughing beside window. Missed opportunity. It’s those non posed shots that are awesome!

  16. Hello mr. Karl,

    It would be great if you create a video on slow shutter photography in studio specially with human movement

  17. Be very careful being around and shooting on an ocean beach. Just one fall into the salt and sand will cause your camera not to function. Tripods also suffer from this type of use if not cleaned properly afterwards.

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