Light is what makes our photographs breathe. It gives our images life in the most purest form. It allows us to transform our visions into reality. We’re allowed so much variety when using natural light, giving us a different mood & atmosphere, all depending on the placement of the sun & clouds. Being a natural light photographer can definitely be a tricky route. You’re forced to deal with many different factors, keeping you on your toes constantly. Surely, we all have our “favorite time of day” to shoot, but what it comes down to is allowing yourself to study your surroundings, what light looks best and how it effects your images. All of these types of lighting situations have particular factors in which they are beneficial, but can also be tricky to use correctly.
This is preferably something I like to work around as much as possible. It gives even skin tones, no harsh light and overall evens the image throughout. Be on the lookout for these spots. Most locations should have them! Be on the look out for a spot which has no direct sunlight on it. It could range from the side of a building to an alley behind a building. I find that most of the best open shaded areas are usually within a cityscape.
Sun Flares & Backlighting.
I would have to say that 90% of the time I am always shooting into the sun/back lighting. When I have a super gorgeous sunset, I love to play with sun flares and making the images hazy with the glow from the sun. First things first with sun flares – it’s nearly impossible at high noon. I always do the majority of my shoots the last 2 hours of daylight, which will bring the sun directly behind my models. That’s a big factor—time of day when you’re shooting. It plays a key part into my particular style and how my final product turns out.
Overcast / Cloudy.
I find it particularly humorous that this type of lighting has become one of my favorites most recently. Any day there is an overcast sky of constant clouds, I like to see it as a huge soft box over the sun. It diffuses the light perfectly amongst your model’s face, creating a matte finish, and allows for even tones with no harsh light. My one and only concern about this type of lighting is the constant dark eyes you’ll seem to get. I find that using a reflector or having the model look up on an angle towards the sky seems to catch the light on their eyes perfectly!
Harsh Light / High Noon.
To say that this is my least favorite time of day to shoot would be an understatement, as I am sure most of us would have to agree! At any cost, I usually try to avoid this type of lighting and will constantly explain to my client why I’d prefer not to shoot at this time. Sometimes though, it is unavoidable. In these circumstances, I’ve found myself leaning towards as many open shaded spots that I can find. Your selection may be limited because of this, but it just makes the experience much more bearable for not only yourself, but your client/model.
Force yourself to see your entire space you’re allowed to work with. Explore for secret spots that offer you the prime lighting your looking for. Always train yourself to be on the look out for these key factors. Once you understand your light, how to use it and what it offers – you’ll find yourself really enjoying the variety. Take chances!