Shooting outdoor you’ll definitely see that there is more in sunlight than just light and shadow, brightness or darkness. It’s also the mood of your image, its look and atmosphere. This article deals with simple tips and tricks on how to take control and make use of natural light.
Basics of Outdoor Lighting for Photographers: The Golden Hour
In photography roughly the first and the last hour of sunlight during the day is called the golden/magic hour (due to the specific lighting that is usually soft, diffused and warm in hue). The exact duration varies between seasons.
When sun is near or below the horizon shadows get longer which helps to accentuate image details. During these times intensity of the direct light is reduced, diffused light produces less contrasts and adds the warm glow to the scenes.
Outdoor Photo Shoot: Taking Photos at Dawn
If you want to capture your images in seclusion without boring idlers and background pedestrians you should go shooting at dawn! Soft diffused light, empty streets and beaches always wait for early-birds.
N.B! If you are going out at dawn don’t forget to take a bottle of hot drink and some jacket. Usually it’s rather cold at dawn.
Silhouette Photos at Dusk and Dawn
Contre-jour, French term that means “against daylight” is used to denote photos taken when the camera points directly towards a source of light. This is the ideal method to make silhouette images with emphasized shapes and lines. Flying hair, smoke, water vapour, flipped sand, fog and other semi-transparent objects look great on such images.
N.B! If you want to make photos at magic hour do not save on memory card space. Lighting changes very quickly and thereby images done in between 2 minutes can differ a lot.
Another Great Trick for Photos, Taken Outdoors
Light is the most magical aspect of photography. This idea inspired our developers to create a lot of wonderful effects that imitate the best lighting ever! If you are a sleepy-head and don’t like dusks and dawns with cold wind you can shoot at any time you like and then use our great Lighting Effects (especially, Evening Light and Dawn Light). To accentuate colors try Color Effects (especially Sweet Caramel and Caramel Haze). These effects look cool on portraits as well as on photos of all other genres! 😉
Besides, we have a special Romantic Landscape effect for those who love magnificent sceneries!
Romantic Landscape in Use:
If it’s cloudy outside feel sunny in your heart as it’s nice time for outdoor photography! At this time sunlight travels through several layers of clouds and gets rather diffused. This light reduces shadows intensity and contrasts. Thereby a photographer can make beautiful images in cold hue with expressive atmosphere.
N.B! Do not forget to try our Blue Only filter on photos with cold tints which are the best to shoot in cloudy days)!
Blue Only in Use:
Photographing in the Sun: Midday Photography
In the middle of the day direct sunlight usually creates too bright highlights and ugly dark shadows. Harsh contrasts and strong shadows usually disfigure faces. The worst of all is that it is very hard to hide them with any post-processing soft or service. Besides, at bright sunlight it is very hard for your model to keep relaxed face expression and not to screw up her/his eyes.
Midday Photography: What You Can Do
1) Go into shadows
Do not choose such places where leaves and branches produce mixed shadows, otherwise, you’ll get shadow spots on models face and body. Remember, the less is distance between your model and an object the deeper are the shadows it produces. If you need to reduce light you can come closer to a wall or huge tree. Still, it is better to try here and there and choose the spot where shadows are soft and light is diffused.
2) Use reflected light. Diffuse light with paper
In photography reflectors are used to light up the models face and, for example, accentuate it. Though reflectors are professional equipment we want to remind you that almost each object reflects light. To make your own reflector you can buy a huge white piece paper and use it to diffuse light in the same way as pro-s use their reflectors and diffusers!
Use white paper to diffuse light. To do that hold it between your model and the source of light.
You can also glue foil to a huge piece of pasteboard to make a personal reflector. Silver color produces natural light, golden fabric makes it warmer and a little bit yellowish (like the light of a candle). If you need to add additional light, try to reflect sunbeams at your models face and you’ll see as shadows disappear from her/his face.
You can also watch this video on how to use a reflector (these methods can be realized with a hand-made reflector as well!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehXbhh1Se7s
3) Turn Your Photo into Black and White!
Sometimes images look better in black&white (e.g., when you need to emphasize contrasts which were lost at shooting). We have cool effect that helps to do that in one click: Old Style BW
Old Style BW in Use: