These tips from photographer Jason D. Little over at Light Stalking will help you understand natural light and how to make the most of it.
With a little practice in different kinds of natural lighting situations (overcast, bright sunlight, golden hour) you’ll soon be able to create stunning portraits without a flash. Don’t forget to click the link below to download the Light Stalking cheat sheet for portrait photography.
Time Restrictions Of Using Natural Light
With flash photography, you’re bound to run into logistical constraints — there’s not enough room to set up your lighting, etc. But with natural light, you’re held back by what time of day you can shoot. Sure, you can shoot in the middle of the day but the light is typically harsh and unflattering.
If this is the only time of day you have to shoot, well…no one’s going to weep for you. On the other hand, if you get up early or wait until later in the day you will be met with light that casts an exquisitely warm glow and soft shadows. It’s ideal for portraiture, but you have a relatively narrow window in which to take advantage of it.
(If you want to know how to take stunning portraits in the harsh midday sun, we have a great tutorial for you here.)
Natural Light Can Be Unpredictable
Natural light means you’re subject to the whims of nature; the environment can change in an instant, potentially ruining your heretofore perfect setup. All it takes is a bit of cloud cover, a strong gust of wind, or a smattering of precipitation to send you back to the drawing board.
The upside? You learn to roll with the punches. If you learn to take what nature dishes out and adapt to it you will greatly expand your creativity. It can be frustrating, but this sort of versatility is an important skill.
Itinerant Environments – Changing Where You Shoot
That perfect sliver of light peeking through the trees isn’t going to last forever; you’ve got to be quick to ensure you get the shot you’re envisioning. When that sliver of light disappears, so does your shot – unless, of course, you’re willing to chase the light until you reacquire a suitable replication.
Odds are you won’t be able to recreate it perfectly, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as your light-chasing adventure may lead to other incredible shots that you couldn’t have possibly foreseen! Natural light isn’t going to make your work easy in many instances, but the results will be the payoff.
Source: Light Stalking