Photo Tip Friday - Lighting: Part 3: Using Ambient Lighting

By Mary Denman

Welcome back to Photo Tip Friday!

For the last two weeks, I've gone over the dynamics of natural lighting. (Links for those posts follow this article.)

Today is about how to use ambient sun light while you're indoors - ambient lighting is the lighting that's available. And it's also about the direction of the lighting. 

Mary Denman Photography
I was sitting with a florist, waiting for a bride to come in and see the mock up of her wedding flowers. This simple vase was on the table in front of me. The lighting caught my attention, and I love flowers! It was late afternoon, and the sun cast magic light. 

So, I took this first picture at the level of the vase. Notice how the bubbles in the vase are illuminated? I love the play of water and light together. 

The sun was coming in from the left in the picture. The water was illuminated, but the back of the roses weren't. And, I couldn't simplify the background like I wanted. There just wasn't a place to photograph them from that side of the table without doors or windows or a car being in the back of the shot. 

Mary Denman Photography

Question...So what did I do? I moved to the other side of the table

Here's the shot. The sun was behind me, coming in from the right, at an angle. However, I wasn't sitting. I was above the flowers. Compare the water in the vase to the first picture. Isn't it amazing how much lighting affects the photograph?

You may also notice the black behind the roses. That's because of the high contrast between the white roses and table below.  

Mary Denman Photography
Being trigger happy, or just loving a gorgeous subject, I sat down and took this picture at the level of the flowers again. 

The lighting was very even because the sun was setting and it doesn't have the same contrast as the photo above. 

The sunlight was coming in from my right side.

These photos are exactly as I took them. They have not been photoshopped. 

Here's the tip: The direction the lighting comes from makes a huge difference in taking indoor shots. Move around your subject, or move your subject to get the lighting that sets them off the best. Be aware of how the light affects your pictures. 

For cell phone users: Because the metering (what reads the light) in your cell phone is tied to the focal point, you can tell your phone where to read the light by tapping on that place on your phone screen. The camera will focus where you tap and read the lighting. Play with focusing on different parts of the screen and see what happens.

Example: In the first shot I discussed, I would tap on the vase where the water is. This will tell your phone to read the lighting in that part of the picture. 

For bloggers: You can find interesting subjects all around you. These flowers are beautiful. You could write an article about the contrast between the beauty of the light versus the dark that threatens to overtake it. You could talk about the simple beauty that surrounds us. Take interesting pictures and let them inspire you! 

So, which picture is your favorite and why? 

Hope this tip helps!

Keep on clicking! 


Part 1 showed how sun lighting changes throughout the day. You can read it here.

Part 2 showed how to take people pictures outside during the hardest time of day. You can read that here. 


How to use Ambient Lighting Indoors with Tips for Bloggers and Cell Phone Users (click to tweet)


  1. I love that you're offering photography tips. I like the last picture best because it's kind of a tease to how pretty all of the flowers are together.

    1. Thanks Rosey! I love to share what I've learned in photography! Have a great weekend!

  2. Amazing what magic you work with your camera, Mary! Although I love the detail of the baby's breath in the last picture, I'm captivated by the interplay of vase and water and the stems of the flowers.

    I'm learning so much. I didn't know that tapping the screen of a cellphone would tell it where to read the light.

  3. Sherry, I'm so glad the tips are helping. :) I'm constantly learning myself and pushing to take better pictures. I'm happy to have you on my journey!