Crafting the Natural Light Look
The One-Light Approach to Creating Striking Portraits with a Strobe or Flash
Learn to use a one-light approach for recreating the look of beautiful, natural window light for portraiture!
At its best, natural light is magical for portraiture. The quality of natural light streaming through a window can be extraordinary—gorgeous, wrapping light that flatters your subject and can be used to create multiple looks. For years, photographer Sandra Coan exclusively used natural light in her portraiture work. And while the results could be magnificent, she also learned that she could not rely on it to build a business and create consistently great photographs. That’s because natural light is frustratingly unpredictable: sometimes it rains, sometimes the light is too harsh when your clients are available, and sometimes—depending on the time of year—it’s just too dark.
In order to grow her business with dependably great results and a high level of professionalism, Sandra finally decided to tackle artificial light. She spent years honing her ability to use artificial light to recreate the look of beautiful, natural light. And now, with a simple one-light approach, she produces “natural” light whenever and wherever she likes, creating great portraits in any situation, at any time of day or night. It’s an approach that has led to a successful career spanning two decades and a signature look to her work. Here, in Crafting the Natural Light Look, Sandra shares her knowledge and techniques so that you, too, can learn to quickly and dependably create the look of natural light in your own portraiture. Unlike other books that address artificial light, Sandra’s tone is conversational and easygoing, and she does not cover everything there is to know about artificial light. In fact, there are no two- or three-light setups here. Instead, Sandra’s method is straightforward and easily actionable. She covers:
- • The key characteristics of light (intensity, distance, direction)
- • Equipment: strobes, flashes, light meters, triggers, receivers, modifiers, reflectors, and light stands—including what she uses, and what she recommends if starting out on a budget
- • Shutter speed and its relationship with artificial light
- • Where to position the light and the subject for consistent, flattering results
- • Creating four lighting patterns and looks with one setup—flat light, loop light, side light, and backlight
- • Using a light meter to determine the perfect flash power (whether you shoot film or digital)
- • Working with individuals, families, and groups
- • The role of shadows in its contribution to the drama and mood of a portrait
- • Common mistakes and how to avoid them
- • What she does in post-production (very little!)
Finally, in a series of case studies, she brings it all together and shares her thought process as she works through a number of real-world portrait shoots from start to finish. If you’re a “natural light photographer” who’s been either struggling with flash or reluctant to learn it at all, Crafting the Natural Light Look is exactly the book you need to improve the quality and consistency of your portraiture.