How to use natural light outdoors (2)

How to use natural light outdoors (2)

In our series on how to use natural light outdoors, this is the second and concluding part. The interesting learning journey in digital photography continues…

An Overview

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In a bid to know how to use natural light outdoors, it is pertinent to note that though all natural light come from the sun, a subject’s lighting is comprises of several components:

  • Direct sunlight gives warmer and higher contrast
  • Diffused skylight gives cooler and low contrast
  • Bounced light reflects object

Dependent on time of day, the relative amount of each component changes and this results in an overall lighting with a different white balance or contrast.

Time of Day

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From high noon, the sun moves closer to the horizon. This produces a lower contrast because sunlight has to move through more atmosphere, and bounces more easily off the ground toward the subject. Hence, the atmosphere filters the sun’s blue light and this produces warmer light in totality.


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The type and reach of cloud cover is another powerful cause of lighting variation. This is key because it influences lighting.  This changes the balance between direct sunlight and diffused skylight and this in turn affects the contrast and color temperature of the light source.

Midday lighting is direct, downward sunlight. The sun is so bright at this time of the day it is hard to control and quite harsh. Though true,  it would be a shame not to use this time of day to get some amazing shots; that is, if you know how to handle the light. It  then ceases to be a problem.  It is advisable to use a polarising filter  or shoot in an area where some of the light can be diffused, the harsh lighting will then, not be a challenge.  As the sun rises in the morning, it comes from an angle and this allows for capturing the gradual progression of the sun rise; it is sure a beautiful sight not to capture!

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Soft evening light also produces amazing photos. At this time of the day, you get some amazing sunsets to work with.  When get a good subject, the soft evening light will enhance their features.


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