Expert tips to amplify ambient light when shooting indoors

Natural light from the sun is the most impactful and challenging creative tool to work with as the colour, brightness and direction of the light changes continuously throughout the day. You can’t let unexpected lighting situations hinder your creativity entirely, instead use them to change the creative direction of your shot or employ some simple tools to make the most of the light you have available.

When you are relying on ambient light through a window at home to work your magic behind the camera it can feel very frustrating when the seasons change or the sun disappears behind some dark clouds. If the sun has taken a vacation or the light coming in from your favourite window isn’t quite bright enough you can use reflector boards or bounce cards to brighten up your subject matter by bouncing the light back at it.

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Reflector boards can help amplify the available light, soften shadows and highlight contrasts in your image. White reflectors can provide fill light and reduce harsh contrasts in both indoor and outdoor photography. Being white in colour there is no risk of colour casts as it provides a versatile neutral light.

Content Creator Connie Chan from What She Pictures left her role as a commercial photographer to work from her home. Often relying on window light for her photos, Connie uses several foam boards to better illuminate her images.

I usually keep several foam boards in the studio. You can get them from a craft store and they cost a few dollars each. Their only function is to be a white, flat surface to reflect light so any other white, flat surface can do the same thing if you don’t have foam boards handy.
— Connie Chan
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Don’t have a reflector? Here’s some other accessible and affordable white objects you can use to bounce light:

  • Walls or cupboard doors

  • Shelf or wooden planks

  • Sheet or white fabric

  • Styrofoam or foam core board

  • White coated MDA board

White boards won’t dramatically light up your image but can be used strategically to enhance your scene depending on where they are placed. There is no right or wrong way to use bounce boards and how you arrange them will have different results on your photo. As each lighting situation and subject matter is unique it is best just to experiment with placing your reflector boards in different positions to discover what gets the best results for you in your space.

Having an abundance of natural light isn’t always something we can take for granted and bounce boards will help you maximise whatever light you have available. If you have a home studio or a room in your house you like to work from a great starting point is to monitor the different outcomes the light has on your subject matter at different times. The same space can conjure up vastly different moods depending on the colour and harshness of the sunlight.

Images and expert tips courtesy of Photographer and Content Creator extraordinaire Connie Chan from What She Pictures. For more tips on how to up your content creation game head to Connie’s blog we found this post on ‘How to shoot products at home’ particularly helpful!