Photographing with natural light – surely it’s Simple?

photographing natural light flowers

I Simply love photographing with the benefit of natural light. I love the softness it can add to images and the way colours remain crisp and true. Using natural light also means that I can remain true to my ‘candid’ nature and capture images naturally and spontaneously. What could be easier than using natural light for taking professional photographs? After all, it means I can turn up whip out my camera and get started….

But I’m afraid that’s where you are wrong. Using natural light as an option for photography certainly doesn’t make it any easier; in fact, it is something of an art form to understand exactly what natural light can bring to a photo shoot and equally, how to manipulate it for the very best results.

Read on as explain a little more about the benefits….

Understanding the Art of Natural Light Photography

Natural light might seem like an effortless choice, but it requires a deep understanding of its qualities and characteristics. The direction, intensity, and colour of natural light change throughout the day which can influence the mood and ambiance of your photographs. As a Professional Photographer I master the art of finding the right angles and times to capture stunning images that showcase the subject’s true essence.

The versatility of Natural Light

Contrary to popular belief, using natural light doesn’t restrict photography to the outdoors. While it’s true that outdoor locations provide ample opportunities for dynamic lighting conditions, indoor settings can also be transformed using natural light sources such as windows and doors. The key lies in understanding how to use the available light to enhance your subject and create a captivating visual.

The Magic of Different Seasons (is summer the optimum time for photo shoots?)

While summer does offer extended daylight hours and warm tones, each season brings its own unique charm to photography. With Spring comes softer,  diffused light, while autumn provides a rich tapestry of colours. And winter’s gentle, filtered light can create almost ethereal scenes. By adapting my techniques to the changing seasons, I can unlock a diverse range of creative possibilities.

If you would like to try taking your own photographs using natural light source these are my key practical tips:

  • Golden Hour: if time is yours then make the most of the “golden hour,” the period shortly after sunrise and before sunset when the sun casts a warm, soft glow. This magical light can enhance your photos, with flattering shadows and a gentle contrast that enhances texture and details.
  • Diffuse and Reflect: When shooting in direct sunlight, use diffusers or reflectors to soften harsh shadows and reduce glare. Even a simple white sheet can bounce light onto your subject, giving an illuminated effect.
  • Window Light: if you are taking your photographs indoors capitalise on natural light streaming through windows. Experiment with the direction of light and its quality—position your subject at different angles to the window to achieve varying effects, from soft and even lighting to dramatic highlights and shadows. Take the time to learn how natural light behaves in various situations. Observe the changes in light throughout the day and explore different angles and compositions to discover the magic that natural light can bring to your photography.
  • Overcast Days: Cloudy skies act as a giant diffuser, creating beautifully even and soft lighting. They provide an excellent opportunity to capture portraits and intricate details without worrying about harsh shadows.
  • Backlighting: work with backlighting by positioning your subject between the light source and the camera. This can create Simply stunning silhouettes or add a radiant halo effect.
  • Avoid Midday Sun: Harsh overhead sunlight around midday can lead to unflattering shadows and blown-out highlights. If shooting outdoors during this time, seek out shaded areas or wait for the sun to become gentler later in the afternoon.
  • ‘White Balance’: Pay attention to white balance settings to ensure accurate colour. And remember, different times of day and weather conditions can affect the colour temperature of light, so make sure you adjust your settings accordingly.

My biggest tip for photographing with natural light is to practice, and practice some more – Photography is an art of experimentation after all. I should also add that I do have lighting equipment and I’m not afraid to use it (if needs must of course). But so far I have been very fortunate that most of my assignments have allowed me to work effectively with the natural variety.

Hopefully I have demonstrated how embracing natural light in professional photography is far from the ‘easy option’. It requires a keen eye, an understanding of lighting dynamics, and the ability to adapt to various conditions. So, the next time you reach for your camera, consider the wonders of natural light, and let it guide you in creating images that tell a compelling and authentic story.

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