For me, the biggest thing which can make or break a picture is the lighting. And it’s such a simple concept too. I’m a big believer of using natural light wherever possible in pictures, and my methods tend to lean more towards not using a flash and seeing what colours and effects come up without adding any extra tricks or to the picture.
Below are a series of pictures I’ve taken in the past, of the same scenes with and without the camera’s flash, with astonishing differences, sometimes making me wonder whether it’s of the same thing!
#1. This is a picture of a window seat inside Leeds Castle, which was in a slightly shadowy room. In reality, the room was a bit dusky, as the only light coming in was from the windows, but on camera it looks beautifully romantic, and almost inviting and ghostly (in the picture on the right). When photographed with the flash (which is the picture on the left), there is a stark difference, it’s much less emotive and doesn’t seem to play tricks on your eyes the way the second one does, but it’s also less 3D as well. As you can imagine, I love the shadows and beauty which you can see with in the natural light of the picture of the flash.
#2. I remember showing this to my sisters, and they refused that these two pictures were of the same thing until I showed them the actual stain glass window I took it off. The difference between the two are remarkable, in the first picture where I used the flash, you can see the age of the window as well as the paint strokes on the glass – doesn’t look appealing at all does it? In contrast, the second picture without the flash looks beautiful, colourful and alive, and doesn’t even look like the same thing at all!
#3. This is another example of what you can miss out on – this was taken in the underground grotto at Leeds Castle, which is actually huger than you can tell in the pictures. There were all sorts of colour lights which illuminated various carvings, statues and engraving, but the biggest ‘piece’ was this scary looking thing, which I think was meant to be a scary sprite or pagan god or something. I forget. Look at the difference in the effect between using the flash (where you can see every details of the stones and the structure), and the natural light (which brings the scary, red-eyed man to life). Certainly entertained the kids too.
#4. This is a picture I took from my sister’s wedding recently, of her beautiful bespoke bridal bouquet, which we all ooh-ed and ahh-ed over for weeks. To be honest, both of these pictures have their own charm, the first one looks more sparkly and vivid, while the second has softer colours which gives a different focus on the bouquet. I still kinda prefer the second one though, just because this kind of thing looks better without harsh lighting, and to be honest, the bouquet kind of made the picture by itself!
There’s nothing wrong with using flash (at night times, you’ll need it!), but I’d definitely recommend that you try out different lighting in various places and see what you come up with, you never know where it’ll lead you (and do let me know what you think of the differences!) 🙂