It’s that I don’t like white paper backgrounds. A woman does not live in front of white paper. She lives on the street, in a motor car, in a hotel room. -Helmut Newton
Specifically, the images we’ll share this week are all indoor with natural light. There are two important distinctions here. First, there is a difference between natural light and ambient light. Ambient light can include artificial light, reflected light, and any other light source available. With ambient light, one can have light coming from several different directions at the same time, which can diminish the appearance of shadows. Natural light is strictly that which comes from the sun. When shooting natural light indoors, that means it is being diffused at least through glass and often through some form of drapery as well. The light is about as soft as we can possibly make it, which in turn makes for very soft edges and easy motion blurs.
We’ve also made the decision to not include any black and white images this week. Helmut would not be happy about that; he quite disliked color transparency film and the difficulties that came with processing. We’re not working with film, though, and have an infinitely greater number of processing choices than did Mr. Newton. To that end, we did re-process all of this week’s images using the identical processing on each one to provide some visual continuity and minimize some of the less appealing factors of digital processing.
Motion blur is also a frequent issue with natural light, because of our need to use slower shutter speeds. I have mixed feelings about blur. There are times when I feel it adds a sense of motion to an image, especially when the image is of a more editorial nature. At the same time, it is admittedly frustrating as hell when every aspect of a portrait is perfect except for the movement of a couple of fingers or the jingle of dangling earrings. You’ll see a couple of images this week where I think the motion works, but know that sometimes, especially when the subject is not a model, the blur isn’t always attractive.
Natural light photographs are, in my opinion, their own form of beauty. They are, especially in this digital age, a very separate and distinct genre. Low processing, no air brushing, and an emphasis on the relationship between the subject and the light are factors distinctive to this week’s photos. Taking pictures in natural light is one of the most basic forms of photography, and it can almost be the most enjoyable. I hope this week’s pictures make you as happy as they do me.