Anyone that has a point and shoot camera (digital or otherwise) usually learns from experience or luck when they get a good picture. Professional photographers consider light, composition and subject as important elements in taking a great photo. Light is a crucial factor in making the subject blend with the composition. Every image that is shot by a professional has to possess good lighting elements, or it will be a failure.
In terms of natural light, the main lighting source is the sun and how its light is reflected on the surroundings. The best way to cope with this kind of lighting is timing when to shoot a certain composition. The time you intend to shoot the picture dictates the direction, intensity and colors that could affect your photograph.
- Dawn. The sun usually casts a gleaming red orange or somewhat pinkish in hue light first thing in the morning. This time is great for creating understated but vividly dramatic photos. The landscape, the outline of the subject, or even the rising sun would be nice subjects for the kind of lighting this natural light provides.
- Early Morning. The sun gradually rises in the sky as it sheds long, soft shadows with its yellowish hue in the lower sky. It can create a beautiful halo around the subjects. Most professional photographers prefer this type of natural light.
- Noon. When the sun has set in the sky, the surroundings take on a bright blue cast. You could create pictures that have strong contrasting colors, short shadows and extremely intense lighting for that 2-dimensional appeal. Naturally dark areas are easily illuminated during this time.
- Midday. The sun will emit a softer, less intense bluish cast creating the ideal natural lighting. At this time, side lighting will create light and shadows simultaneously. This effect accentuates depth without being overbearing. It also brings out surface textures.
- Evening. The last hours of daylight shows the sun rapidly lowering in the sky. It produces a warm, pinkish cast similar to dawn. It gives the scene a lively atmosphere and an urbane appeal. This is one of the best times for natural lighting.
- Sunset. This kind of lighting is actually the reverse of dawn. When the sun is low on the horizon, brilliant red is cast over everything but with a softer effect. Great for dramatic and exaggerated photos.
- Twilight. As it will be usually dark and colorless during this time, this still offers a magnificent occasion for taking more interesting photos against a light source. This could be the moon or other artificial light forms that can capture the subject’s details.
No matter what time of day you intend to photograph your subject, it’s up to you to recognize the benefits in various situations. Side lighting can soften the subject. Backlight with a very small background is great but needs careful handling. Front lighting is usually the safest, although the most common. Mastery of natural light photography is a handy technique, as you don’t need a lot of equipment – although you are subject to the elements.