The importance of light in a website photograph

It's something that needs emphasising, so I will keep going on and on about it. The QUALITY of light in a photograph will express so much more than most of us could ever achieve in words.

This photograph is at the top of Marisa Guthrie's Business Coaching Sussex site. She's talking to a client. We could have taken this shot anywhere in any kind of light.  I chose to record their conversation in front of a window with autumn sunlight pouring in behind them. A halo of light surrounds them.

Marisa Guthrie and client Business Coaching Sussex Website

The quality of the light, it's brightness, the inherent glow it gives both women speaks of optimism, health, hope and vitality.  These are the messages being received by the viewer of the photograph without the use of any words at all.  It's a subliminal message and all the more powerful for that.

Dreamy photographs - set your shutter to plus 160/sec and your aperture to F4

I'm sticking with 1/160 of a second (or faster) whenever I go out photographing in Lewes Railway Land.  Today I added another aspect, I shot everything at F4.

Of course I had to be careful, with F4 at 125-200mm it's very easy to get the wrong thing in focus but when it works, it's beautiful.

A downy bee, teazles that stand out like razors against the dark of the wood and a butterfly in the midst of swathes of deep, rich colour. Nothing added, or taken away, in Photoshop.

Worth a try.

Try something different - getting away from the chiropody cliché

Fitness for Feet is run by Helen O'Rourke who is friendly and bubbly and good at her job.  She needed an A5 leaflet to let people know about her podiatry practice.

She didn't want something formulaic, over-medical or some photo-library standard of a row of perfect feet. These feet are elegant but flawed, shot using window light with a wooden floor to add to the quality of naturalness.

Images of perfect feet can make it harder for people to present their own imperfect ones.

Staying away from the standard therapy hues of green and blue means that people may look twice at this leaflet.  It's not quite what you'd expect from a podiatry practice and for that reason it's more engaging, and more likely to be kept.


Coming soon,the Fitness for Feet website by 100Designs

160/Sec - Super Shutter Speed

My Lewes Railwayland Project comes into its six month and aside from Experiencing Nature and lots of Mindfulness, and some very pleasing photographs, the biggest gift has been learning the beauty and usefulness of 160/second shutter speed.

I tend to use my Nikon 80-200mm lens when going about photographing nature because I love sharpness against blur.  But it's heavy and so many of my shots have been spoiled by shake.  One day I decided to set the camera to shutter priority (160/sec).  I haven't had a blur since.  I only photograph Nature in good light so it hardly ever fails me as a way of making consistently lovely shots.

It's only taken me thirty years to learn this.  When you've got your big lens, set the shutter priority to 160/sec and keep it there.  Better late than never.

Photographing flowers as they dance

This was of the kind of day it was at Amanda Saurin's place in Barcombe, East Sussex. Rainy, cloudy and very windy.  

Amanda Saurin's flower garden by Katie Vandyck

Amanda's an apothecary, her creams, oils, soaps and aromatic waters are exquisite and here are some of the flowers they come from.

It wasn't a good day for sunbathing but it was a fair day for photographing flowers. The rain eventually stopped but the clouds stayed so the light was gentle and diffused.

If the sunlight had been brighter, the contrast on the flowers would have been greater and we would have lost the subtle range of colours and tones that diffused light gives.

The Technical Bit

I used my 80-200mm lens so that individual flowers would stand out sharply against a blurred background. I used a fast shutter speed, around 1/250, to freeze the flowers in their windy dance and the bees and butterflies as they got right into the nectar.

Overcast daylight always works well for rendering a range of colours in natural subjects with no concealing shadows or burnt out highlights.


Bee in Lavender by Katie Vandyck at 100Designs for Amanda Saurin's beautiful oils and soaps and more.

How to Photograph Silver Jewellery using Natural Light 1 - Thanks to The Silvery

Using baking parchment and any kind of structure you like to support it, you can use bright sunlight to create the softest of shadows and the gentlest luminescence in silvery jewellery.

Sunlight through baking parchment to photograph silver jewellery

These are shot from above and I moved the little piece of polysterene reflector backwards and fowards until the highlight on the jewellery was just right, showing enough texture and keeping the shadow to a minimum to allow for the brightness of just-polished, brand new silver jewellery.

The Big Beautiful Lightbox - a bright, overcast day

Bright, direct sunlight is wonderful for photographing products outside if you can control it, either reflect it or filter the sun through some semi-transparent material to lesson the contrast and soften shadows.

OR, on the next bright but overcast day, see how how subtle and beautiful and gentle the light is on your products without any effort on your part at all.

The shot of the fruit was taken around midday so the sun is directly overhead like a giant softbox. There are no reflectors used and the photograph was shot from overhead.  The oranges could, frankly, be fresher but all the fruit has a subtle, luminous quality which is all about the the natural light filtering through the clouds on a damp, spring day.

Positive images of old age - a Home Support website

Sun Rose Care offers at-home support for those who need it.  

Using the beautiful sunlight at the moment and showing the genuine enjoyment of companionship between the elderly people who use Sun Rose Care, and those who support them, the message through the site is positive and hopeful.

_DSC4207 Dorothy and Carl for web.jpg

There is no prettification going on here. This old lady is very real.  The photographs work because the light that streams through her hair gives the feeling of warmth, brightness, happiness.  

The close-up photography allows the viewer to concentrate on the enjoyment between the two people. At-home care is all about the relationship between carer and the customer.

The Sun Rose Care website will going live very soon.  

Sun Rose Care Ltd
66 High Street, Lewes, BN7 1XG
mob 07460 322687 tel 01273 613871


Inspiration from everywhere - The Chalk Gallery, Lewes

Doesn't matter where it comes from Inspiration is Inspiration.  I went to the Chalk Gallery in Lewes yesterday to see their current exhibition.  It's a relatively small show which makes it possible to do it properly, see everything, even examine the racks of prints of the artists' work.  Which are beautiful.

I loved the range of work, media, shapes, colours and subjects.  All in one room.  I went away feeling nourished and stimulated and happy.

I also have no doubt at all that the websites I create and the photographs I take will be slightly more interesting, arresting and inspired because of that exhibition.

Get along there, or somewhere else that's showing lovely work, as soon as you can, to feed your soul and find inspiration for your own work.

Gus Harrison

Gus Harrison

Richard Heys

Richard Heys

Chris Liddiard

Chris Liddiard

Louisa Crispin

Louisa Crispin

To name but a few of the very talented artists showing there.

Chalk Gallery 
Art Gallery
Address: 4 North Street, Lewes BN7 2PA
Phone:01273 474477

Open today · 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Photographing Pottery using window light - Floor it

As the periods of strong sunlight get longer, so do your options.  I noticed there was a bright pool of light on the floor next to my window and, using my reflector to increase highlights and fill in the shadows, I managed to make a beautiful lightbox of sunlight which had it been direct, would have been much too strong.

Without polystyrene reflector

Without polystyrene reflector

With polystyrene reflector

With polystyrene reflector

What is particularly lovely is that the square of polystyrene floor tile creates pearly highlights around the edge of the pots. It gives them a  seductive glow, a gleam that is both beautiful and very high rent.

Combining photos and graphics - giving vitality to information

Life Coach Amanda Wallas offers a free newsletter for every season.  I took a series of photographs to help create something warm, informative, interesting and lively for her Spring Newsletter.

The photographs

The Newsletter

Just the right amount of information, lively photographic illustration, inviting colours that reflect the look of her website. Graphics and photos working together to make it all fun.

For Amanda's newsletter and her services visit her site at

VIsually rich newsletter by 100Designs
Beautiful newsletter by 100Designs

Photo Therapy - The Other Kind (or four reasons to carry a camera)

I've been a photographer for a long time but only just started taking my camera about with me. Specifically, on my morning dog walk in Lewes Railwayland nature reserve. I've been doing that walk for years but the daily recording of the turning of Winter into Spring has been the fastest route to Mindfulness I've ever known.

I now notice tiny daily changes in the woodland. I now notice.

Four reasons for taking photographs on a daily route

1. You actually experience your familiar world. 
2. You hone your photographic skills, just by doing loads more of it
3. You build up a library. Who know when it will come in useful. I use the photographs I take on the websites I make. Keeps them fresh and original and lively.
4.It's a visual diary and will stir memories when you look back at the photographs. A defence against forgetfulness.

Thank you to Richie for his endless patience and without whom .....

Richie The Greyhound by Katie Vandyck

Window light to bring out the gleam in pottery

The window light works for gentle, directional light but the polysterene reflector does two important things.  

1. It reduces the shadow caused by the window light.
2. A reflection of the polystyrene square in the glaze of the pottery lends a gentle luminosity to the pottery.

We are starting to have more sunlight now.   Make the most.