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Turn off your flash
Built in flash is not your friend…it looks harsh and generally will ruin a good shot, so get out your manual and find out how to turn it OFF!

That said, I am a big fan of ‘off camera flash’, but currently smart phones, Iphones, Ipads and most compact cameras do not support this technology. We can still use the principles employed by professionals, but you’ll be pleased to know, I’ve made it waaaaaaay simpler.

If you cannot take control and move the subject to the light, you have two options to dramatically improve the existing light….both fit in your pocket and are relatively inexpensive.


Old school I know, but used by professionals the world over in photography, film and TV because they are cheap, simple and effective. That been said I’m not content with that, so I’ll show you how to make a pocket version for a few pounds which will work even better for you!

Reflectors simply bounce the existing light in the direction you want…remember when you were a child and you’d bounce light off your watch around the ceiling in class? …same principle.
It involves a little moving them around and experimenting to get the best results.

They are great to fill in heavy shadows or just to bathe you subject in a wonderful pool of light.


So, as promised, here is how you can make a pocket one for a few pounds: The great thing is you can make any size, the more crumpled they get the better and light has colour [more about that in a mo] so they give off a particularly cool light:


LED lights
This technology is still emerging and has just become very affordable, not that we care, but it is emerging from the video market….and I have to say, I LOVE these lights and so will you!!

So, a very quick but simple technical bit: Light has colour. You know that lovely light at golden hour (just before sunset) it’s a very different ‘colour temperature’ to normal day light or flash. That’s all you really need to know…the LED lights I talk about, unlike LED torches from the hardware store are the right colour temperature for photography.

The big advantage of these continuous lights over flash lighting is you can see the results and refine the light before you take your picture. This will open up a whole world of possibilities and you’ll soon be shooting at night like a pro.

They are battery powered and cost from £36  upwards [I plan to review several units on the blog soon]

They are great for pictures of people, smaller objects, but clearly won’t light up a big subject [unless you have a few] or a landscape

Here are a few before and after shots taken by an 8 year old child on an Ipad2 to demonstrate just how easy they are to use (notice the rough application of the rule of thirds…swells with pride ;-):




Here are more recent & related articles from the blog:

Make an LED ringlight
Off the shelf light
Using LED lights
Using reflectors
A Light without electricity or batteries


[(o)]   For the next lesson…Step this way:




3 comments to “7) ADD LIGHT”

  • Peter Bryenton, March 9, 2013 at 8:05 am

    Well structured tutorials thanks.

    Budget folding reflectors: look for those car windscreen sun blockers in bargain shops (UK Pound shops; Euro shops etc.)

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    • lightism, March 9, 2013 at 9:53 am

      Good tip…Thanks, Si

  • Simon, April 8, 2013 at 7:54 am

    A white shower curtain also makes a great emergency reflector/scrim, and adds very little weight to your bag. Those emergency foil rescue blankets are even lighter, I always carry both.