Seeing the light, or more specifically, the direction of the light falling on your subject is most important, you need to look at your subject carefully and watch how the shadows fall. Natural light is beautiful and fun to work with.
Today we’re going to talk about natural light and photography. I’m a strictly natural light photographer – no studio lights here. I, personally, think natural lighting is more flattering and you can be SO creative with it! Today I’m going to point out 3 different types of natural lighting you can work with and experiment with, no matter your experience level, or even what equipment you have! But, the first thing you need to do is turn off the flash on your camera. All of the beautiful natural light and purposeful positioning won’t make a difference if your flash undoes it all 🙂
1. Front lighting – this is essentially when your subject is evenly lit from the front. This is achieved (indoors) by facing your subject directly towards a large window, for example. This works best if it’s a North or south facing window, or when the sun is over head, not shining directly through the window – blinding your subject! All of my black backdrop photos are done this way, with the subjects facing directly toward my large window in my living room. It’s a nice, even effect with no shadows falling under their eyes (causing the oh so lovely raccoon effect). I wouldn’t recommend this effect outdoors on a sunny day – I would recommend using side lighting for those conditions – however on an overcast day, you always get nice even lighting and lots of details in both your highlights and shadows.This photo was taken out doors on an overcast day. You can see how the lighting is pretty even all over – a very uniform look. Easy on your camera, too 🙂 It doesn’t make it go craZy trying to figure out how to expose it.
2.Side lighting – this is when your subject is placed with the light source to one side of them. This effect is gorgeous outdoors when the sun is nice and low in the sky (like about an hour before sunset). What this does is give the subject lots of dimension and gives it a 3-D look. Always look carefully at your subject and notice where the shadows are falling. It’s amazing what moving a few inches to the left or right can do to change the entire effect of the picture! In this lovely digital age you have the benefit of taking LOTS of pictures with no added cost. You can really experiment with side lighting to try some awesome effects.
This works just as well indoors. Instead of placing your subject directly facing a window, try positioning them so the window is to one side of them or another. Or you can have them facing the window straight on and YOU be the one to move to the side. Fun stuff. Give it a shot!
3.Back lighting – This is where your light source is BEHIND your SUBJECT, not when the light source is behind you. This sounds simple, but it can be tricky to get right. The tricky part comes in pointing your camera directly into the light. What often happens is you get that icky glare that decreases definition and contrast in your pics. Using a lens hood helps with that. If you can get the lighting right, it showers a beautiful light over your subject, highlighting their hair and giving a warm glow.
If, when using back lighting, your subject looks too dark, you can try forcing your camera to flash (choosing the flash on icon or whatever) and it will fill in the shadows and warm up your subject quite a bit, while still giving your subject that nice backlit glow.
Back lighting works really well when you are trying to create a silhouette. The key to getting this effect is to make your camera take a meter reading off the sky. All this means is you want your camera to set the sky at a correct exposure, making everything else darker. You know when you press your shutter button down half way to focus before you actually press all the way to take the picture? Usually what your camera is also doing is taking a reading of the light, to decide what settings to use so the picture will turn out correctly exposed (not too light or too dark). So, you want to tell your camera to make the sky not too light or too dark, which – when you are pointing right into a light source – will make the rest of the photo darker (meaning your subject will be silhouetted). I hope that made some sort of sense. To try creating a silhouette, place your subject between you and the light source, so the light source is behind them. Then, point your camera up and to the side of them , pointing it at the sky, then press your shutter button down half way. Keep it pressed down and move the camera so it’s pointing back at your subject, which should now look pretty dark. Snap. You’ll create a nice silhouette. Give it a shot!