I can see three very clear aspects that all three photos share, so let's concentrate on those.
Two can be done in camera, the third is a software process.
I didn't have time to costume a collection of actors or find a nice medieval-style location... but I have a toy bear & my living room, with a bookcase in the corner.
I didn't set up any lighting for ...
Directly with regards to the lighting:
Much of her recent work has strong light sources from behind the main subject(s). About 45° (either to the side or a combination of to the side and above) from directly behind the subject seems to be the most common angle in her examples on instagram. She's not afraid to let the highlights go to get the shot she wants.
I'm chiming in to introduce you to: the tub trick.
Tubs are great:
Combined, you get a place to set things that'll bounce around the light and provide for a mostly white background.
Here's my tub complete with window lighting:
And here's the shot, placing the item on the rail and cropping out the rest:
I did use the ...
1. Some theory
The first thing you need to understand is the inverse square law.
This is that the light intensity decays quadratically (1/x^2) when you are further apart from the light source.
I normally post this diagram flipped, but I am posting it like this to match your window.
If you put a softbox to the right side of the couch the light will ...
No, changing the exposure or using an ND filter will not help you with this, since both will only brighten or darken everything by a certain factor.
Your problem is the large relative difference between the bright and dark parts, the dynamic range. And your eyes can capture a much larger dynamic range than the camera's sensor.
In order to have a photo ...
The trick is very easy, actually: bring your own lighting. The existing orange sodium-vapor lighting is missing important parts of color spectrum, so those colors will never be reflected from anything. Filtering will only further reduce the colors available for recording.
The "good" examples in the question look very much like one would get with a couple ...
Well, you could play around with the white balance and give the pictures a more warm tone. You can also tune the saturation of the colors to make the grass look greener, shift some of the yellow into green, stuff like that.
Other than that, maybe wait for a sunny day and shoot during the golden hours or so.
Edit: Oh, and shoot raw, that way you have more ...
That's a nice silhouette!
You're running into the same problem that anyone runs into when photographing a very backlit subject: a lot of light is coming from the background and creating a drastic difference in ideal exposure between the background and foreground.
Given this, you can handle the situation a number of different ways:
Change the Exposure to ...
There is a Wikipedia article on top-left lighting, which cites as its primary reference the papers Where is the sun? and Is light in pictures presumed to come from the left side?. These papers support the conclusion that people prefer lighting from the left when resolving a convex-concave ambiguity, although the second notes that the correlation is weak (...
The use of flash actually pre-dates electric lighting, the first flashes being entirely chemical.
Nowadays the main reason for using flash is that a flash can be considerably brighter than continuous lighting because it only has to be on for a very short time (while the photo is being taken).
A continuous light source that was the same brightness as a ...
This effect was done by shining light directly in the same path as the lens. A half-translucent/half-reflective mirror (as in a "two-way" mirror) was placed in front of the lens at a 45 degree angle, and a beam of light directed on to that.
darkness \ <-- light
I think "several fluorescent fixtures that I use to light my studio" is the key here. I'm guessing that the very high ISOs are accompanied by very short shutter speeds. Fluorescent lights cycle, and there are color variations within the cycle. Repeat your test with incandescent light or sunlight (or a strobe with high-speed sync).
See Do fluorescent ...
You need to adjust for the color temperature of the light source. Additionally. when the light source is of such a limited spectrum as appears to be the case here, you need to add more light that covers a wider portion of the visible spectrum. The relatively bright sky in the background fooled your camera's Auto White Balance into thinking that is what ...
Are you open to the possibility of getting yourself a flash as a quick before-Christmas gift to yourself? In my experience — and especially back when I had young, enthusiastic children not interested in sitting still — adding a flash was the best thing I did for my family-around-the-Christmas-tree photos.
On-camera flash is annoying and doesn't provide good ...
there are multiple crazy lights casting different tones from different directions;
you only have JPEGs;
or you just need a quick solution,
an easy way to fix color cast is to go for black and white.
Here's what I got in Gimp under a minute (Colors -> Desaturate -> Average), including some increase of contrast using Curves tool:
In the immortal words of the late National Geographic photo editor Bob Gilka, "Kid, if you want to be a better photographer, you're going to have to stand in front of more interesting stuff."
That said, welcome to the sometimes not-so-wonderful world of the commercial/industrial photographer. As often as not, making a dramatic, exciting picture of something ...
The idea is I will be down below, looking up at them to take the photo, so a flash would be useless.
Only if you limit yourself to a camera mounted flash.
The key to such a shot is to get the lights off the camera and onto the subjects from angles other than the optical axis of the lens. You'll probably need at least a couple of off-camera flashes with ...
This is a difficult problem as in general those orange sodium vapour lamps give you little to work with, but there are some options
Lighting varies with location, it's probably the case that the lighting in the second two examples was better (more sources, broader spectrum), so move around and compare results.
By careful editing you can sometimes get a ...
Each colour film reacts differently to light and renders colours in it's own unique way, if you are trying to accurately simulate film then you need to learn the properties of the particular emulsion.
However if you are trying to get a generic retro look to your images then this is much easier. I shot a wedding a few years ago and decided to do the whole ...
I think I would have used flash to overpower the extreme purple. But sometimes you can't do that, which can mean a lot of work in post. Here is what I would do in lightroom or photoshop camera raw. First thing I would do, which everyone else seems to have mentioned is to adjust the white balance. I then added a neutral gradient with even more white balance ...
Theatrical/concert photography is about the most challenging there is, both in terms of pushing the equipment you use to the absolute edge of their capabilities and in terms of requiring every bit of skill and experience you might have as the photographer.
Photography is the art of capturing light. Most concerts don't offer much light to capture and what ...
What exactly limits modern digital camera sensors in capturing light intensity beyond certain point?
In terms of the physical properties of the sensor itself:
The number of photon strikes and the number of free electrons resulting from such photon strikes until there are no more available electrons with the potential to be freed within each photosite (a/k/...
The shutter speed now is 250
From what I can tell from the Google, the Nikon D3100 has a flash sync speed of 1/200. So, you're setting your shutter speed too fast and the curtain is already starting to close when the strobes pop.
Your maximum should be 1/200. But, honestly, there's no reason to even flirt with the edge that much. You can go down to 1/125 ...
First of all, it's important to realize that, when you photograph a reflective object, you're actually photographing the surrounding scenery as it reflects off the object. This means that it's not enough to just set the object in a lightbox and maybe point some spot lights at it, at least unless you want to make the reflections rather simple and dull.
Nothing at all against LightBender's calculations and advice, but the OP's question is about balancing flash and ambient light, which is a valuable concept to tackle.
Check out this great how-to on the Strobist blog.
First, turn off your flash completely and find a good manual exposure for the ambient (hot lights). Then, dial that down a ...
You want to be shooting more or less dead on to the subject, not to the side. The rule of thumb is that the line of the nose should not 'break' the line of the cheek, and this is doubly true for nasally well-endowed subjects.
Avoid wide-angle lenses like the plague - you need to be looking at a 100-135mm lens ideally, as it will flatten the photograph ...
Golden hour is when the sun is low in the horizon, giving light with a golden tint.
Blue hour is when the sun is slightly below the horizon, leaving the sky deep blue.
There is no set duration because it varies according to latitude and time of the year.
Civil twilight is a good approximation with the sun being ±6° around the horizon.
When the angle is ...
Ruined? That's a great photo! (If you were going for a sort of Halloween effect.) The position of the key light – off to the side and elevated – was perfect for this subject, and is typical of how beauty dishes are used.
Now, if you didn't want the shadow here are things to consider:
Using a single source you can't have the subject against a ...