.. but so many forget to think about it. They’ve bought their camera, maybe a lens or two, camera bag and storage cards. Some may have spent a small fortune on hardware hoping that it will give them stunning results and then completely forget to think about one of the most fundamental things needed. Light!

You don’t need to spend a fortune on studio lights or on camera strobes, there are plenty other sources from natural sun light to torches, table lamps, LEDs, etc. If you want to shoot landscapes think about when you’ll visit them, dawn or dusk may give you far more interesting cloudscapes during the warmer seasons than visiting them mid day with clear skies.

Think about the light sources around you. The walkways into Canary Wharf from the Jubilee line have a number of walls with very large glass panels lit from behind, like a monster soft box.  I couldn’t resist putting the iPhone on the glass and taking a test shot.

If you’re in very strong light taking portraits consider having your subject turn their back to the light but ensure to meter off their face otherwise they’ll be thrown into the shadows. If you have a sheet to hand or pop-up reflector think about using it to create some softened shade. If you have them face the sun be prepared for squinting and harsh shadows.

Flore Philis Also think about how you can control the light you’ve got. The carefully positioned third light above Flore’s head in this shot adding depth and shine to her hair. When you really want to be in control of light spill from bare strobes then go one better than barn doors and use cinefoil that can be moulded to the exact shape you need.

Very dark sheets just off camera can be used to suck up light so that it doesn’t reflect back onto the subject. Ideal if you’re trying to do artistic B&W shots with increased contrast. If there’s a lot of light also consider putting the camera on a tripod and shooting a series of bracketed images for HDR conversion, a technique used to great effect by Trey over at www.stuckincustoms.com