Friday, 3 August 2012

Natural Light

Among the various sources of light available, There is only one source that generates natural light – The Sun. Some classify 2 sources of natural light, the sun and the moon, but in reality moonlight is nothing but reflected sunlight.

natural light
Photo By Sally Monster

Unlike other light sources, natural light presents photographers with many challenges, some of which are way beyond the control of the photographer. So it is a challenging task to photograph in natural light, but it has its own rewards too, at times photographers get presented with such lighting that cannot be mimicked even with the use of very extensive lighting gear.

The biggest attribute of our natural light source, the sun is that it is a single point source of light, it has varying color temperature, it is never stationary, it moves up and around subjects in the real world.

Throughout a day not only the position of the sun but also the colour quality of the light it emits also changes. Sunlight varies from the golden light at the time of the first light of dawn, the harsh white light at the time of noon and the rich yellow glow of evening light. Not only do the colours change, but the direction and angle of the light changes as well. As the sun rises, transits the sky and sets. Then comes the light of the moon, it does not vary in color temperature, but it is also not a stationary source, and the brightness level changes each day of the month.

Colour Temperature of Sunlight
Colour Temperature of Sunlight

A natural light photographer’s biggest asset should be his patience. Without which he could never succeed. It is the photographer’s job to pick the right time of the day, and also the right time of the year shoot a particular scene. Seasonal changes make landscapes look like two different places altogether. He should be prepared to wait for hours when the sun is in the right position to cast the right light and shadows. Sometimes he would have to wait for months to achieve a shot.

natural light
Photo By Kovis

For anyone who wish to photograph in natural light, a thorough understanding of seasons, the sun position, rising and setting time for each day of the year, angle etc is a must. You may depend on a sun calendar or tools available on the internet to get the required information. Being better informed will help you predict the lighting in a given scene to some extend and lets you take up ideal vantage points in a scene and wait for the light to present itself. Often you will only be presented with a small window where the light is perfect. So be prepared to grab any opportunity that nature presents. And the rewards will be sweet.

In the next article we will discuss about Photography - Types of Light - Daylight

Related Reading

  1. Polarizing Filter
  2. Graduated Neutral Density Filter
  3. Neutral Density Filter
  4. UV or Haze Filter
  5. Clamp