How lighting affects Photography – Part 2: light sources and what to look for

Here’s a short list of light sources to look out for, while selecting your location for the photo shoot

1)  Natural Light 

The best thing about natural light is that it’s completely free! But for shooting in natural light you should do your research. You need to know the direction of the sun from where you are shooting- at the time you are planning to shoot. The light changes color and intensity during the day, which has a direct effect on the white balance of the image. While shooting in natural light you can experiment with the Kelvin scale and if your camera has the ability to shoot in RAW use it, as then the white balance can be adjusted during post processing. 

2) Window Light

Window light is usually softer than direct sunlight. The light is usually downward in direction and the top half of the room is darker than the bottom half. The windows facing north have the most consistent light all through the day but make sure that you shoot as quickly as possible because the sunlight moves 15 degrees an hour. 

3) Open Shade 

Open shade has a low contrast and has a bluish tint in the shadow. You can find open shade during high noon, it can seem like a silver shade under a building’s eaves or shadow of a vehicle or trees. You can see two kinds of shades while shooting – one is the shade up close to the source of light and one at the edge just before the harsh light. The subject of your photography should always be at the shade’s edge as it the light is the softest yet with some direction. You need to turn your subject in different direction to capture the right photograph and find the ‘sweet spots’ of open shade. 

4) Sunshine 

The most beautiful time to take a photograph is during sunrise and sunset as the sky is filled with lots of amazing colors, and the light itself is soft and warm. Use this time to click colorful and beautiful photos. You can also use the sunlight to backlight your subject when the sun is out. 

5) Dark Background

Dark backgrounds creates a dramatic effect narrowing the focus on the object. Make sure you don’t use your flash. Set your camera to Manual mode with a small aperture and set your shutter speed to highest to avoid overexposing your shots.

6) Backlight

Backlight is created when the subject of your photography is in front of the light source, this adds a lot of contrasting colors in the photograph. You can use this kind of lighting while photographing an architectural building or a landscape, as well as for portraits. If combined with the weather conditions, the backlight can produce photographs that are extremely powerful and dramatic. 

7) Direct Light 

Direct light comes straight from the light source to the subject and this light creates shadows with high contrast and edges. A great example of direct light is when the sun shines on a clear day. Direct light can be very attractive as well as vivid and can be used to form attractive patterns on the walls. But direct light can even ruin an image if not used effectively. Standing with the back to the light source can flatten out the light leaving you with a one-dimensional image. Even when you make the subject look directly at the light source it leads them to make unappealing faces and the picture doesn’t turn out well. Early mornings and late afternoons are the perfect time to use direct sunlight for your photography.

8) Diffused Light

Diffused light passes through a semi-transparent material as it goes to the subject from the source. It creates softer edges and shadows with low contrast. The shadows can be so light sometimes that you wouldn’t even be able to see them. One of the best examples of diffused light is when the sun shines through the clouds or when the light passes through a thin curtain on the window.

As you see, you have plenty of light sources to choose from. What light sources do you use? Let me know in the comments below or contact me directly.

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Hi, I'm Ingvild

I spend as much of my time as I can being outside taking photos of happy couples in love. I live with my dog and boyfriend in Norway, and I love traveling the world in search of beautiful locations and love stories.

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