Step into the Light

A 3-step plan to fix the common problems with online meetings


Hi there, I’m Marcus Ahmad a commercial photographer based in Bristol UK. I have been shooting for over 20 years and also spent 7 years as a Senior Lecturer in Fashion and Advertising Photography. My speciality is working with companies to raise their Brand Profile with photography.

Lately, having been involved in so many online meetings, one to one teaching and watching interviews on the TV. I couldn’t help but notice the varying quality of the video images/feeds that people were putting out.  I know I may be a bit hyper sensitive to these things because I am a “visual” person, but, come on, you must have noticed it too! I can only imagine the producers of BBC News pulling their hair out when a high-profile politician comes on the screen, and their face is blue and we are staring straight up their nose!


Sounds familiar?


I have come up with a 3-stage plan to fix your woes and make you the star of the silver screen – without spending a penny. Though I will give some options on buying kit if you want to take things further.

After all, after Lockdown is over, I think a lot more people are going to carry on working from home – it does have its benefits, right?

  OK the first thing we are going to look at is any photographers favourite subject – light.

STEP INTO THE LIGHT:

OK bear with me as we need to dive into a bit of technical jargon here.

The camera on your computer, in fact all camera’s, has to deal with a thing called “exposure latitude”.

Simply put – the amount of information in the highlights (brightest part of the image) and the shadows (darkest part of the image).

It struggles with scenes that have elements in them that are too dark and too bright.

So, what you see in photography is not what you get.

In this first image you can see the camera is “overwhelmed” by bright light coming from the window on the left of my face. That side of my face is blown out and has no detail – not ideal. 

The second image has the light coming from behind – backlighting.

Actually, this type of lighting, when mastered, is a really beautiful light. And can produce some stunning photos. It’s just better suited to your DSLR which has a better exposure latitude and can better deal with extremes of light.

OK, now to the third photo and things are looking better. This time the light is coming from in front of me and giving a much flatter light – Happy days!

For extra bonus points, if you pull across a net curtain or similar. You get this result which is diffused light, which is softer and more flattering. A photographer’s dream – well apart from the model!

BRING ON THE NIGHT:


If It’s night time, the above techniques still apply but direct the light, with an angle-poise lamp or similar, ideally "bounced " off a wall. 


Just be careful not to have the computer screen too bright – this will make

you look blue and the room may be yellow. 

Not the best combination! So, turn down the brightness of your computer monitor to reduce the blue – technically you’re fooling the camera’s white balance.

OK, next post will be about the getting the most out of your built-in camera.

Marcus will be back next week with the second part of this series – You can find out more about Marcus and examples of his work on his website

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