Tips for shooting boudoir with only natural light

Nov 8, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Tips for shooting boudoir with only natural light

Nov 8, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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lindsay_adler_natural_light_boudoir

From a lighting standpoint, I find boudoir is one of the most fun genres to shoot. I feel it just offers more lighting choices than most other genres. Boudoir lighting can tell the same story many different ways. I often prefer flash for my own work. It just gives me more control. But I don’t always neglect the power of a big window light.

That’s what New York based fashion & beauty photographer and Canon Explorer of Light Lindsay Adler is doing in this video. She’s teamed up with ExpoImaging to produce a series of videos highlighting their Rogue range of photography accessories. Shooting by window light, Lindsay walks us through the process, offering a number of great posing and lighting tips along the way. There may be some NSFW viewing if you carry on.

YouTube video

The Light

The light here is, obviously, the window. Lindsay is using this window to backlight our subject. A thin white curtain in front of the window provides nice even spread of brightness, with light wrapping around the subject. If there isn’t one available at the location, you can always hang one from a C-Stand.

lindsay_adler_window_light

This essentially turns the window into a great big softbox or like a Lastolite Hilite to use as a white background. In this case, she used it as a white background.

The Settings

For the vast majority of cameras, if you just throw it into matrix or evaluative metering, it’s going to look at the scene before you and get it wrong. It will see the blown out white background, and the silhouette of the person, but it will drastically underexpose. The camera tries to even out everything as medium grey, so if you want white to look white, you need to dial in a few stops of overexposure.

This way, the background is pure white, while the subject’s skin, lit only by the wrap around light from the background, is well exposed.

lindsay_adler_boudoir

You could, however, also switch over to spot metering mode to meter right off your subject’s skin.

The Pose

Lindsay takes some time to walk through some of the posing choices she makes for boudoir. She also explains why she’s making those choices, and the benefits they can provide.

But, there’s no magic formula that works for every boudoir subject you may have. So, these aren’t the only choices that can be made.

The only thing left to do was then tweak the lighting using reflectors. This allows Lindsay to give some direction to the light on her subject and add more interest to the shot.

lindsay_adler_reflector

The difference the reflector makes is clearly visible in this side-by-side comparison.

lindsay_adler_with_without_reflector

As well as giving some general direction, the reflector allows you to send more light back towards your subject’s face. Even in boudoir, the face is still the primary area we often wish to highlight.

It’s a great super low budget option. Just a few bucks for some white material. You can do it pretty much anywhere you have a window, too, even if it doesn’t already have curtains.

It’s also a good basic setup for newer boudoir photographers. With the lighting quickly sorted, it’s one less variable you have to really worry about.

What would you have done differently to Lindsay? What other tips do you have for working with just ambient light? Do you often shoot boudoir with natural light? Or do you prefer to work with flash? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

[via SLR Lounge]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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