One of the most powerful and important tools a photographer can access is definitely natural light. If you understand how it works and how to manipulate it, you may end up with more satisfying images. Also, natural light is free and it means you’re not going to have to rush out and purchase any fancy photography equipment.
Remember, with many photos you’re trying to create a mood, tell a story, or communicate with the viewer.
As you’re probably aware, natural light characteristics alter throughout the day, usually because of the hour or the weather conditions.
Because the light changes it means the same scene will also change with it.
For instance if you take shots of the same subject at different times of the day, such as sunrise, the middle of the day, and sunset, the scene will usually look quite different in each photo.
This is a bonus because it allows you to capture the scene several different ways. If you don’t like the way it looks in the middle of the afternoon you can wait until sunset to capture a more dramatic shot and mood.
This is because natural light affords us this opportunity since it’s forever changing. There is no right and wrong time or bad and good time to take photos.
The best time to take photos will basically depend on the specific mood or atmosphere you’re trying to create. Many people refer to the golden hour as the best time to take your shots, but it isn’t always necessarily true. Sometimes harsh light might be needed to create the image you have in mind.
For example, if you’re taking photos of a farmer working in a field you may want to convey the feeling that it’s harsh manual labor.
If you take the same shot in a different lighting condition this message may not be felt by the viewer. With harsh light, hard shadows, and lightly washed out colors this will allow you to communicate your message better. You may want to look at natural light as a set of golf clubs and you choose the club or the type of light that best suits your objective.
A good way to know which type of natural light is the best for your photos is to observe how it affects and interacts with you and your surroundings in everyday situations. Learn how it casts shadows and changes when you move positions etc.
The more you know about natural light and how it works the better chance you will have of using it to create the scene you want.
If you’ve noticed how light affects certain scenes it’ll enable you to capture the dramatic effects it produces. Don’t be afraid to experiment with light by taking various shots to see how each situation translates to an image. If you don’t take photos in different settings, you’ll never know how they’ll turn out. These photos won’t necessarily be the best you’ve ever taken, but they’ll give you a good idea of how different natural lighting situations affect your shots.
If you see something or a scene that piques your interest, make sure you take a few shots. It doesn’t matter how many books or articles you read on photography or any other activity, you’ll only become better at it and learn more about it with practice.