How to Shoot Beautiful Natural Light Images in Your Shed

If you have a good understanding of how light works, you may find that an expensive studio stuffed full of high-end strobes and funky diffusers is far from important when it comes to creating striking images. In this short video, photographer Irene Rudnyk shows you how to produce something remarkable using little more than a shed.

Natural light on a bright day can be brutal, producing harsh shadows across a model’s features. Using a doorway leading into a dark room can turn that hard light to soft, and Rudnyk here shows how the shed in her back garden gives her some very flattering illumination.

Squeezing her sister into the small shed in between a bottle of weedkiller and a turquoise mountain bike, Rudnyk demonstrates how easy it is to create such a simple setup. Incredibly generous when it comes to passing on her knowledge, Rudnyk even offers viewers an insight into the editing that she carries out on the shots taken on her medium format camera using Portra 400 film. You can see the before and after here, with Rudnyk explaining that she does little more than some light skin retouching, contrast, and a tweak to the white balance. 

What’s the strangest place you’ve ever turned into a photo studio? Leave your answer in the comments below.

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19 Comments

Matt Guilford's picture

Gosh -- I enjoyed this so much. Loved seeing her vision and the output. So simple, but inspiring. So many great shots really enjoyed the still at 12.23 in the video. Great content. Thank you! -- Also, how do I get my family members to be that patient and compliant as models??

Crystal Johnson's picture

Her work is always so pretty, so feminine. I love the softness of it paired with the dress.

Leigh Miller's picture

Set the timer on the popcorn maker...poured a glass of whiskey.

Just waiting now...for all the losers to make comments on her attire, technique etc...

That sounded like a troll rant. :-/

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Then perhaps you shouldn't go around making what sounded almost like an invitation for those trolls to waltz in here and start stirring up trouble?

The whole point is not to give them any fodder, and you just did...

Just sayin'.

Logan Cressler's picture

So what you are basically saying, is that you WANT people to do exactly that. In fact you are not only looking for it, you are excited by the prospect of it.

Why do people actually want to be frustrated and angry all the time now?

Irene Rudnyk's picture

Thank you for including the before and after in this article. Many assume that all my work is highly edited in post, but that is not the case, especially when it comes to film.

Daniel Medley's picture

You have people say that with a beautiful model, makeup, and styling you're always going to have a great outcome. Which is not true, of course. You can have the best model, makeup, and styling in the world, but if the lighting sucks, the image is going to suck. Irene does a great job of getting the best light available in a given situation, and this is a perfect example.

She likes a big soft light source and this is that. Sure, you could replicate it in a studio with a strobe, a huge scrim, and high ceilings, but if you have a shed with a large door it sure is convenient.

ian kasnoff's picture

Good example of a great technique.
This set up works wonderfully for film.
Just had to point out that it’s “Portra” not “Porta”.

This illustrates perfectly the resourcefulness that a good creative needs. Use what you have got. Gear will not save you from a dearth of ideas and lack of a problem solving mindset.

One nitpick: Why do people shoot with the lens hood reversed? By turning it right way round it actually provides benefit AND gets it out of the way in supporting the lens/body combo.

"What’s the strangest place you’ve ever turned into a photo studio?"

I photographed Mick Fleetwood in a Costco and had to make it look I was in studio. Used an umbrella with a speedlight on full power to get the BG to go black. Tested on the reporter for the magazine, grabbed him took about 8 shots in 60 seconds and got a shot I still use on site. Magazine was happy too.

Logan Cressler's picture

Lens hood also protects the objective lens from getting hit into things and damage.

Setthasiri Ngamsom's picture

I love that juts one reflector create stunning images.

Rob Mitchell's picture

My shed is full of tools. That’s what sheds are for!
😉

I discovered this basic concept in Seattle 30 years ago by accident. My first few months shooting models was in the summer...but then along came the rain. In Seattle...that rain lasts for about...9 months. "Hey!...stand right there inside that parking garage entrance!" Just trying to get out of the rain. And...with a bit of reflector....the light was absolutely perfect. I would have an umbrella on a stand next to me so I could hide under it. The model was out of the rain...but i sure wasnt. Those were the days of push-processing chrome film.

Mike Young's picture

Really nice insight for someone who is always learning and looking for new methods, tips and tricks. Thanks for sharing.

user-206807's picture

I like its conception of a "natural look"........

Wolfgang Post's picture

Very nice video, thanks for sharing.
Definitely more valuable and useful over those '5 reasons for using / dropping xxx camera' stuff.

Loved the colors...