Using natural light for better photographs

In a world completely aided by technology, natural light manages to outshine artificial light with its quality of versatility. The element of rawness in photography arises when natural light comes into the picture, quite literally.

The simple fact is that natural light cannot be manoeuvred by photographers to suit a particular scene. Therefore, its effect on humans and materials, once it falls upon them, is unpredictable.

Though not entirely, there are certain ways in which natural light can be influenced such that the right intensity of light hits the right surfaces. For this reason, photographers have a few tools that help them seek out the comfortable aura of natural light and have it effortlessly displayed in their shots.

The origination of mood lighting

In order to grasp how to utilise natural light better, it is important to understand the variable moods that it possesses, simply based on the time of the day. The position of the sun directly affects the quality of light i.e. harsh, bright, mellow, cool, etc.

When the sun stands directly overhead, some of the harshest light falls on objects below. Hence, mid-day photography is rarely ever carried out without any extra tools like reflectors, diffusers, etc. For indoor photography in the afternoon, light is channelled and streamed into space. When a professional shot is taken, textures and colours tend to be enhanced. Diffusion of afternoon light becomes necessary in situations where a certain person or object is to be highlighted.

Photographers mostly favour morning or evening time because of the soft quality of natural light that is produced at such hours. This not only creates mesmerising frames but also produces the softest shadows.

The naked eye is showered upon with a magnificent scenario wherein pure golden rays pierce through or from behind the lining of the clouds and hit the earth’s surface. This phenomenon is popularly referred to as “the golden hour”. This light is known to be the most flattering, whether it’s for outdoor photography or indoor. It becomes a hassle-free task to utilise this natural light because the angle and intensity of light tend to naturally highlight the features that are most amiable.

Architecture has quite a big impact on natural light photography. Glass façades, steel framing, stone finishing, marbled surfaces, etc., each one of these creates a different visual impact when light falls upon them. A play of light and shadows arises out of this merging, which is quite impossible to be recreated in a studio with the help of artificial light.

Angle of light

When the sun is lower in the sky, it casts softer shadows. However, the angle of light comes into consideration when the photographer wants to produce a specific effect or aura in his shot. Direct lighting hits the object whilst highlighting its every feature. However, the photographer could move sideways and shoot, such that half the body of the object falls prey to the shadows i.e. remains dark. This could either produce an artistic effect or ruin the photograph. A 45º angle is magical as just the right amount of light is captured through the shot.

It’s certainly quite easy to use natural light for photography because it requires no additional costs of the studio tools. Manipulation of this light to produce artistic shots is a learning process for every photographer in order to highlight the subject and produce an artistic blend of reality and mesmerising visuals.





About the author:

Mahika Kothawade, currently studying Mass Communication, also has a keen interest in architecture. Her thirst for knowledge drives her to keep an up-to-date knowledge of current affairs around the world.