Feb 17 2007

Natural Light is the Best

Published by at 7:54 am under Better Photos

As a photographer, one of your best friends and worst enemies will be the weather. It is impossible to always have ideal conditions for shooting your subject matter, but it is possible to take what you get and make the most out of it. Whether your day is sunny, overcast, or rainy, you can create beautiful shots of the landscape.

There are two hours in the day known affectionately by photographers as the golden hours. These two hours occur right after sunrise and right before sunset and are generally longer in the summer and shorter in the winter. Why are these two hours generally the best for effective shots? Well, during the early morning and late afternoon, the sun is positioned for dramatic lighting, but will not create harsh shadows or blazes of light, especially when shooting with people.

Think about it – if you’ve ever taken your subject outside a little before noon, you’ve probably noticed one of three things. First, your subject trying not to squint into the sun could ruin your picture. Second, your subject is too dark because they are standing with their back to the sun, creating a silhouette effect. Lastly, your subject’s face and features look distorted because standing with the sun at one side creates awkward shadows. None of the options produce a good photograph. During the noontime hour, all the shadows will totally disappear, giving the picture a flat appearance. Sunrise and sunset provide just the right kind of lighting and shadows, and also a beautiful photographic opportunity in many cases, since the colors are so beautiful in the sky.

If the day is cloudy or completely overcast, you can get good photographs as well. The clouds in the sky diffuse the light so that the subject is illuminated with natural light, but the harsh shadows are gone. However, if you find that the pictures look a little too flat, try using a flash, even if you don’t need it, or shooting in black and white. Black and white photography works very well on overcast days when the colors would look washed out.

If the day is rainy, don’t despair-you can still get some shots. In fact, rain adds an interesting element to the image! However, in wet conditions, always make sure that your equipment is protected from the water. You may want to consider bringing some extra hands to hold umbrellas and carry bags. You may not be able to get all the shots you want, but rainy days are great for some stunning effects on what would otherwise be bland pictures. Whatever the weather, if you keep a positive attitude, you are sure to get some shots you can use.

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