Dinner with friends, a beautifully decorated birthday cake… nothing comes close to the cozy, warm, comforting atmosphere created by candlelight. Here are some tips on how to capture those moments on your camera.
A question of lighting
Photographing by candlelight has its challenges: the lighting is dark and the contrast is high. You can help resolve these issues by diffusing the diffusing ambient light with reflectors.
Reflectors and how to make them
The majority of professional photographers use cut and broken mirrors in a variety of shapes, each with a particular purpose. But with a little aluminum foil, cardboard and masking tape, you can easily and quickly make effective DIY reflectors.
Get three or four pieces of cardboard of various sizes. Cut off a piece of aluminum foil slightly larger than the cardboard you wish to cover – crumple it in a ball and then carefully open the foil to a sheet again. Now place it over the cardboard so it lays flat. Fold the extra foil over the reverse side of the cardboard and tape it down with masking tape.
To take advantage of indirect light, your reflector must be in the right place and have the right angle to redirect light. Windows and lamps make great sources.
If you’re using a digital camera:
- Make sure the flash is off and the white balance is set to Daylight or Fog.
- Use a large aperture setting. Letting in a lot of light will reduce the exposure time, lower the ISO setting and reduce the risks of blurry photos from camera shake.
- Capture in RAW format. The photos will be take up more “space” but will give you the most information for post-processing and therefor the most flexibility for an optimal file.
Whenever taking photos, keep in mind that light reveals detail, it’s what creates the illusion of depth and it’s the key to establishing the mood of your images.
Turn off all indoor house lights and your camera’s flash, then light some candles and you’re ready to take fabulous photos (and have fun while doing it!).