One of the most important skills that a photographer has to learn is lighting, which in turn can be broken down into two different lighting techniques: artificial and natural lighting. Artificial light can be studio lighting or even the use of extra lighting outside and the characteristics of natural light change at different times of the day.
Photographic Lighting Tips
Even those who prefer to work with natural light often use three-point lighting techniques. Watching experts at work can teach you some seriously simple lighting techniques. Make sure that you thoroughly understand the filters and special effects built into your digital camera. Often the manual will offer basic, but useful photography tips.
The type of lighting that you use will affect how the colours appear in your photographs. For example, the warmer the lighting, the redder the tint that the lighting will impart on the subject, especially the portrait of a person. This is an important consideration when choosing the time of day for an outdoor shoot. The heat of the early afternoon will give the most red.
Early morning pictures will tend to be cooler, colder, more clinical. Afternoon shots will be warmer, more golden and warmer colours have a greater emotional effect. However, colder lighting tends to give higher definition, cooler colours less definition. Experimenting with these factors is essential if you want to use natural external light to the greatest effect.
The next consideration is shadow. Shadows are strongest, that is give the most contrast, when the sun’s rays are strongest or most focused. Shadows are weakest when the sun’s rays are diffused like in the late afternoon or early evening. At midday, when the sun is overhead, there is relatively little shadow, which can make some subjects seem flat, especially if you need shadow to bring out the relief of the object.
For instance, craggy rocks or cliff faces will not look very craggy without shadow to bring out the relief. An hours time difference can have a huge effect on the outcome of a photograph, which is why a good photographer will take time to learn the local conditions of the sun and the way that it will be reflected onto the subject that he or she has in mind.
If the sunlight is strong, you may need to find some natural shade for either the camera, the subject or both. You usually have some choice regarding the position of the sun relative to yourself and the subject – whether it is behind you, behind to the right et cetera, and these are also important considerations, which can dramatically affect your photo.
Shooting in a forest can be tricky. For instance, there are always small gaps in the canopy, but the sun’s rays only penetrate to the ground when the sun is directly overhead, which makes eleven a.m to one p.m. just about the only shooting opportunity of every day. Knowing these simple tips can save a lot of frustration.
Outdoor, day time photography using only a natural light source is a fascinating topic, but one that has to be learned thoroughly. In a way, studio lighting is same-same, but there are so many factors outside your control when shooting outdoors. Make sue that you get a weather report from a reliable source and learn how to interpret the terminology of meteorology.