Shooting with natural light provides many possibilities, but also poses a lot of restraints, especially when it comes to portrait photography. While cloudy sky creates perfect diffuse light ideal for portraits, the sunlight is another story when it comes to this type of photography. On the plus side, it can create wonderful golden light and interesting shadows, but on the other hand – it can be unpredictable, and sometimes the shadows are exactly what you want and need to avoid. In this article you can read about the possible restrictions of natural light, but also about the ways of overcoming the difficulties and using natural light to create stunning images.
Portraits are often done with the help of strobes or flashes, and in these cases you can control the amount of light you use, its directions and intensity. With natural light, this amount of control is impossible. No matter how much you love having things in your control, the truth is that you will not always be able or even allowed to use flash or strobe. In such cases, work with what you have. The direction and intensity of light can be controlled by the time of day when you schedule the shooting. Choose the early morning or late afternoon for portrait shots and use the low, golden light provided by the sun. Set the model in different positions in relation to the light, play with backlight and enjoy all the possibilities you have when making portraits at these times of day.
Another aspect of control over light relies on the control over the intensity and the warmth of light. If you achieve the light you want by using studio equipment, you will always know what you work with and you can change the setting according to your ideas. With natural light, you can come from a golden morning light to diffuse light of a cloudy sky in an instant. If you planned the photo shoot based on the predictions about the weather, do not get disappointed. Take it as an opportunity to expand your views and implement your creativity. Relax and use the newly formed conditions to make the shots, and they may end up better than you expected.
The third thing you control when shooting indoors or with the help of studio lightning is the environment. When you have the setting you want and the light you need, you can easily stick with the plan. However, natural light changes its directions and even the color and intensity, so the location at which you initially planned to shot may not turn out to be the best solution. In these cases, do not be stubborn and stick to the previously chosen location at all costs. Instead, chase the light, change the plan on the go and once again – employ your creativity.
Working with natural light can be tricky, demanding and not always successful – but if you do your best, continuously learn and do not give up, it can be more than rewarding and give you even better shots than you hoped for.Learn More