Shooting with Natural Light on a Budget

I’m looking to shoot more natural light in 2018. As much as I love off-camera flash, it’s annoying to bring a light stand to every shoot. I can get away with shooting with the flash on camera if I don’t have a light stand, but sometimes the lighting can be a bit harsh and flat.

I pride myself in being able to shoot with both natural light and off-camera flash, but my goal is to make my natural light portfolio just as good as my off-camera flash work.

A small group of photographers and I spent the day in Mt. Charleston to shoot in the snow. One of the photographers brought her aspiring model friend to be our “subject”. Vegas people get very excited about snow, so Mt. Charleston was pretty packed. My car was parked far and I didn’t want to haul my light stands while walking up the hill, so I just left it in the trunk.

I felt a little out of my element for various reasons. First of all, I’ve been so used to off-camera flash, that I felt it’s been my “crutch”. I now had to read the light and move the model accordingly. Second of all, I was using my Dad’s Canon Rebel T1i, which I still have from my Philippines vacation. I’m still trying to get used to the dials and buttons, but they’re so much different than my higher-end Nikons. Back-button focusing (BBF) felt weird on the T1i, so I switched and re-learned shutter-button focusing. Finally, I only had the kit lenses, which are sometimes not ideal with shooting natural light portraits because of it’s no-so-wide apertures.

Many photography beginners think that shooting at an aperture of f/1.8 with the 50mm lens is the only way to get a blurry and “bokeh-riffic” background. However, depth of field is also determined by the distance between the subject and the background, as well as the subject and the photographer. To get the blurriness, there needs to be a good amount of distance between the subject and the background and the photographer. With that in mind, I used the 55-250mm kit lens only.