Donald Leon Farrow has the detail and focus of a nurse anesthetist. So as a freelance photographer, Donald Leon Farrow naturally began breaking down the elements of what makes a good picture. While both composition and aperture are important, Donald Leon Farrow has learned the important role lighting plays in the art of photography. Recently, Donald Leon Farrow answered questions about how to properly light a photo for maximum benefits.
Q: Is there anything I can do to get more light in a situation where there isn’t enough?
Donald Leon Farrow: It depends on your subject. I try to use as much natural light indoors as possible, by opening windows to the light. This can produce a very natural and pleasing affect. You can also adjust aperture opening and slow the shutter timing – to let in additional light and test some shots to see results with this approach.
Q: Won’t wider aperture and slower shutter speeds make the shot blurry?
Donald Leon Farrow: Indeed. This is why this approach is dependent on your subject. Subjects prone to movement are not the best for this approach (including portraits). If your subject is a still such as a lamp on a table – then there is less of a problem. Using this approach – I recommend a camera tripod to keep the camera still during the shoot, and always take test shots using some different settings to observe the results on your digital camera before proceeding.
Q: If I’m using natural light to light a photo, what tips do you offer?
Donald Leon Farrow: As always – it depends on your subject. Shooting a large body of water – like the ocean for instance – can look great in mid-day light that is direct and harsh. This same light is generally not good for portrait photography. So it’s important to understand the dynamics of lighting and variations of outdoor lighting. For example – very cloudy days produce a soft and diffused light minimizing shadows. Such diffused light is great for portraits.
Q: What about the beautiful golden light of sunset?
Donald Leon Farrow: This time of day produces rich colors in the red hue of the sun. There are a number of situations where would be desirable. Again – photography is an art form and it depends on what the artist is trying to achieve.
Q: When someone is shooting indoors, what can he or she do to help things along?
Donald Leon Farrow: Always be aware of composition – that is where your subject is in the photo and what is around it. Second – understand the effect of lighting on your subject, and how to achieve the results you desire.
Q: What about supplemental lighting?
Donald Leon Farrow: I recommend natural lighting whenever possible. Supplemental lighting can apply to indoor or outdoor photography, and can use natural or artificial light. Outdoor light can be supplemented with a variety of reflector panels that can be positioned to bounce natural light in the desired direction. Similarly, artificial lighting can be used to the same effect by positioning lights. These reflectors or lights are generally positioned on tri-pods.
Q: What type of portable flash do you recommend?
Donald Leon Farrow: The photographer will get more range and utility and portability using a hotshoe mounted flash. This flash has a wide range of strength settings and positions, and holds the flash away from the lens.
Q: Does a reflector attached to a camera flash make a difference?
Donald Leon Farrow: It can. These reflectors can control a flash in a number of ways including diffusing, bouncing or specifically directing the flash. Before using this method, I recommend the photographer experiment and bracket some shots. Always notice the effect of shadows when using a portable flash, and understand how to eliminate them (if desired) by repositioning subjects or adjusting the flash.
Q: Lighting sounds like a varied medium in photography.
Donald Leon Farrow: There are no right or wrong answers. The only valid question is whether the photographer can meet her or his artistic goals using lighting. This requires an understanding of outdoor and indoor lighting dynamics and how to use tools and techniques to create the desired results.
Donald Leon Farrow was born and resides in Vancouver, British Columbia. He received his nursing degrees from Keiser University in Clearwater, Florida, followed by his degree in Photographic Arts and Production from the School of Photographic Arts in Ottawa. He works for various institutions as a Traveling Nurse of Anesthetist, and then as a Freelance Photographer. Donald Leon Farrow loves his nursing work and new advances in this field. In his non-work, non-study hours, Donald Leon Farrow works photography consignments and practices his art.