How to make your photos more creative by using alternative light sources

We’ve previously discussed how to get the best results from natural light and how to make the most of whatever light you have available during the day. Now it’s time to level up and learn how to work with the light you have available anywhere and anytime.

Limited sources of light should never hinder your creativity, rather it should inspire you to be even more innovative with your photography. There’s so many unexpected sources of light you can use to add unique and creative effects elements to your images. Once you start to look around you’ll notice so many light emitting objects around your home and neighbourhood that you may have never noticed before, let alone considered photographing. Some more commonly added light sources are items such as fairy lights and candles but have you ever considered getting more creative and using the light inside your refrigerator or household electronic devices?

Using car headlights as an alternative light source. Photo for Batch X by Creatively Squared creator Hannah

Using car headlights as an alternative light source. Photo for Batch X by Creatively Squared creator Hannah

How to find creative light sources to use in your photos

This is the easy part - simply start by observing your surroundings for all sources of light. Wherever you are, inside or out, look for where the light is coming from and see where shadows are falling. Inside there are so many sources of light to experiment with such as candles, table lamps, laptop screens, refrigerator doors and torches. Outside there is the moonlight, street lights, neon signs, car headlights and open fires.

There is no right or wrong way to use any available, or created, light sources and it may take some experimentation to position and photograph your subject matter to ensure it is adequately lit. Photographing in low light situations can be challenging and may require some extra patience and equipment to capture all the detail in your image.

Using fairy lights as an alternative light source. Photo for Macallan by Creatively Squared creator Jitz

Using fairy lights as an alternative light source. Photo for Macallan by Creatively Squared creator Jitz

Tips for photographing in unusual lighting situations

Composing your photo using alternative light sources can be a bit trickier, particularly if you are shooting in an unusual location with a smaller or unpredictable source of light. To help improve the outcome of your photo you can:

  • Use a tripod

  • Meter the exposure directly on your subject matter

  • If you are using a DSLR camera use a wide aperture and/or increase the ISO.

  • If you are shooting on your smartphone you can experiment with apps that allow you to shoot in RAW and manually adjust the settings to give you more control over your image such as NightCap Camera, ProCam 6 and Camera+ 2

Using creative light sources doesn’t have to result in a perfectly lit or exposed photo, it is more about adding a unique concept to your image and having fun trying something new. The more unusual and unexpected the light source the better! We would love to see how you are experimenting with sources of added light, you can tag your Instagram shots with #cs_lightemup and view the gallery to see how everyone else in the Creatively Squared community challenged themselves too.