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…with natural light fashion photography tips

An Overview

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In a bid to know how to use natural light outdoors, I’d like to note that though all natural light comes from the sun, a subject’s lighting comprises 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 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. And if you do, it  then ceases to be a problem.  Try the use a polarising filter or shoot in an area where some of the light can be diffused. Harsh lighting will not be a challenge then.  As the sun rises in the morning, it comes from an angle and this allows for capturing the gradual progression of the sun rise. That’s a great time for capturing beautiful shots!

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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 you get a good subject, the soft evening light will enhance their features and maybe you would soon start giving natural light fashion photography tips.


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