The Magic (and Difficulty) of Natural Lighting

There are many kinds of lighting situations! You may be photographing around noon, with the sun casting harsh, strict shadows. Or you could be outside when the weather is cloudy and the light is diffused. Maybe you’re shooting in the oh-so-wonderful golden hour of sunset. You will need to learn how to make the best of each of these situations, and more.


Okay, starting with the first lighting situation; noon. You want to avoid shooting around this time (Unless you are going for a specific ‘look’ with a bright subject with harsh shadows)! If you need to shoot at this time, try to shoot in the shadows of buildings or use a reflector to brighten the subject’s face and eliminate shadows.

If there are no convenient shady areas to shoot and you don’t have a reflector on-hand, the best thing to do is put your subject in front of the sun. This can be a little tricky around noon when the sun is straight above. But if you are able to find a way to make it work, your subject won’t be squinting!  Caution- because the background is so bright, it will most likely white out with your subject’s face in full shadow. If you can avoid photographing at this time, I recommend you do that. For more ideas, go here.


If you’re shooting when the weather is overcast, you are really lucky! All of the light is diffused (broken up, a soft lighting) meaning your subject will not have harsh shadows. As nice as it is to shoot in overcast, you won’t be getting as much light, or it will appear flat. To bring in more light to your camera’s sensor, try lowering the shutter speed or aperture. If it is very cloudy and you need a lot of light, you could try a flash. For more information and options, check out this:

Golden Hour

Golden hour is one of the best times to shoot! This is the hour the sun is rising/setting, and the area has a nice golden look to it. The light is softer during this time; your subjects won’t have to squint and no harsh shadows will form. You can also place your subjects anywhere. Facing the sun? Awesome. Their back to the sun? Sure. Get creative- that’s what photography is about! All angles and poses look good during golden hour. For more information, go here.

If you want to know the exact time for Golden Hour in your area, check out this website!

Do you need advise on other types of lighting situations? Just ask in the comments!


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