Up Your Instagram Game With Our Monthly Photography Class

Member Ashley Batz schools us.

Annie Gabillet

Photographer and member Ashley Batz kicked off her monthly photography class at The Assembly with a focus on how to use natural light in photography. Whether you’re using your iPhone or fancy DSLR, the sun will impact your photos. During the one-hour session, we learned why backlighting and shadows are not always a bad thing, and experimented taking portraits. We even got to play models for each other. Smize!

Batz reviewed the basics — ISO, aperture, and shutter speed — and taught us how to tweak them depending on the light and mood you’re trying to achieve. Even in the same location, you can get very different photos depending on the settings you chose. After a crash course upstairs, we headed down to the backyard to try shooting in diffused light. The soft, scattered light is very common in San Francisco, thanks to the cloud cover.

Using Batz as my model, I tried my hand at portraiture with diffused lighting. I set my Sony point-and-shoot camera to ISO 250, an aperture of 3.2, and shutter speed of 1/100. While it felt relatively dim outside at 6:45 p.m., these tips helped create a much brighter finished product.

My portrait of Batz in diffused light.

Batz brought examples of her work to demonstrate how lighting influences photography — and to give us newbies something to strive for.

Backlight: Batz took this photo right before sun down to achieve this effect. She used a higher ISO (400-600) and a very wide open aperture (like 4.6).
Sidelight: Batz showcased the clothing in this photo by shooting with sidelight. She used a smaller aperture (like 7.1) and an ISO between 200 and 400.
Diffused light: Batz used diffused light to create soft shadows on her model. She also made her own light by using an ISO of 400 and aperture of 3.5.

If you’re looking to up your Instagram game, need more professional photos for a website, or simply want to get better at taking photos of your family, sign up for Batz’s next photography class. She plans to focus on tips for photographing objects, like tablescapes and cocktails. And maybe we’ll start modeling again after a drink or two.

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