Natural light in photography
I spoke a bit about natural light in a recent blog (Product photography lighting). I mentioned the soft shadows and even lighting that indirect natural light provides. I have a few more examples here of how natural lighting creates beautiful images.
At a daytime event the indirect light from windows if you’re inside, or the even light from a cloudy sky if you’re outside, is usually evenly bright and coming from a flattering angle. The first photograph was taken at a seed swap and food event in Exeter put on by the Exeter Community Initiatives project Harvest. The light was from a large window about 30 feet away and it was reflecting around the room off of the cream walls, which took some of the cooler blue out of the daylight and provided a diffuse but bright source of light that meant I didn’t have to worry about my subjects not being sufficiently lit.
In portrait photography natural light is preferred by many photographers, including myself, even though artificial studio lighting gives the photographer full control over every aspect of the lighting. One of the reasons that I resist artificial lighting for portraits is individuality: I want each photograph I take of a person to be as individual as possible – natural light changes from day to day and hour to hour, and although I may take photographs of people in the same or similar place, as the lighting changes through the day the results will be different and unique.
The portrait above was taken at Exeter Community Initiatives with a south facing window about three feet to the right. The light was bright enough to fill the room and the cream walls provided a reflector to add enough light to the subject’s face on the shadowed side. The window can be seen highlighting his eyes and drawing your attention to the calm friendliness of his expression.
For interior architectural photography, natural light presents the rooms the way that the visitors or occupants will see them. There’s an honest to it. The interior still life photograph was taken on a cloudy spring day. There was a skylight in the double height ceiling that light the white walls but the main window gave most of the soft, angled light that fell on the furniture. There was a still glow in that room that any use of artificial light would have destroyed.
These are just a few of the reasons that I love natural light.
About the photographer
Paul Ligas is a professional commercial photographer based in Herefordshire, working across Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and the UK. Follow on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and connect on LinkedIn.