Lighting: Natural Light

Many reading this will likely have little experience using flash but a few months ago I felt as if any situation could be ultimately improved by artificial lighting, here are a few ways Natural light can be utilized in ways which make it just as pleasant and versatile as artificial.

It can still be soft.

When I took up photography I used natural lighting as I knew nothing else, what sold artificial lighting was the ability to diffuse it to create soft, pleasant light. What I would later find out is that natural light can be just as soft when the subject is placed in open shade. To find effective places for pleasant lighting look for the transitions between direct sunlight and shade, and place the subject just inside the shade.

Easy high key backgrounds.

One of the biggest issues with natural light is the struggle with balancing the exposure of your subject and background. In certain situations it is often easier to expose for your subject and let the background overexpose, resulting in clean high key backgrounds.

You don’t always need to be in open shade.

You can still get relatively soft lighting in direct sunlight too, just point shoot into and slightly to one direction of the sun and compensate, this will result in the side of your subject blowing out slightly, but is not too large a price to pay. You may also use it to your advantage like in the photo to the right where the blown highlights give a separation between the similar tones of the wall and her hair, an effect generally associated with two to three point lighting setups.

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