Knowing how to use light is the foundation for great photography. Here are three reasons why we love shooting with natural light.
As long as the sun is up, natural light will be available to you. No need to buy expensive artificial lighting equipment. This is one reason why many photographers start out solely using natural light. A photographer can buy a camera and a lens or two and leave the rest up to the sun. Some days are better than others when it comes to weather, but even on a rainy day, you can make use of natural light near windows or doors. There are many different accessories you can use to optimize your natural light photography such as reflectors or diffusers but many of our favorite images have been captured with just a camera and beautiful natural light.
Creativity and variety
The look of your photography can vary greatly throughout the day as the quality, color, and angle of light changes. Many people refer to the last hour of sunlight during the day as “golden hour” or “magic hour.” The angle and warmth of the light during this time of day certainly does have a special quality to it and can produce some amazing images. That being said, shooting in the middle of the day can also produce some awesome photography if you know how to use the light to your advantage. Midday light is the strongest and has a cooler tone. When shooting portraits, you can position your subject facing away from the light source to create amazing images with soft even light or you can face the subject toward the light source to create strong contrast with hard shadows and bright highlights.
Fast and flexible
Setting up artificial lighting is time consuming and often tedious. When using natural lighting you can start shooting as soon as you step outside and your subject is ready. For our Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery shoot, we stayed inside, but we set up near a window to capture the perfect naturally-lit shot. Natural light doesn’t have to be tweaked, adjusted, or calibrated, the photographer just has to find locations that have good lighting at the time of the shoot. You can also be more in the moment when relying on natural light. Without having to fine tune lighting setups, you can react quickly to capture more authentic expressions, interactions, and events that may pass in the blink of an eye. It’s also much easier to move from one location to another when you’re not hauling a bunch of heavy gear, which is why we sometimes are minimalists when it comes to gear, depending on the project. Natural light allows nature and urban neighborhoods to become the photographer’s studio. The possibilities are endless.