Lighting is one of the key elements when it comes to photography. Not only does it make your photos look better instantly, but the presets will work much better on a well-lit photo.
The best lighting without a doubt is natural lighting. Especially, if you are just starting out in your photography journey. Natural lighting is easy to understand and you do not need to invest any money for it to look great.
By knowing a couple of photography lighting basics, you can immediately step up your photography game. A well-lit picture will reveal your model's best features. On top of that, you can experiment with studio lighting, reflectors, and simply lights around the house to create artistic photos.
Natural Lighting in Photography
When we are talking about natural lighting, we are not talking about the direct sun. Many photographers prefer natural lighting in shade or overcast.
This is definitely a better choice for beginners because it is a lot easier to get great photos. However, if you have been taken photos for some time, you might want to experiment with direct sun and low light photography.
Natural lighting is loved by photographers specifically for its soft tones. On top of that, it is easy to avoid unwanted shadows on the models' faces. There are two main positions of natural light: in front of the subject or on the side.
If you are currently limited to taking photos at home, natural lighting can be a great opportunity to get creative. You don't even necessarily need a camera, you could easily take your own photos with your iPhone. You can read more about mobile photography here.
How to Take Your Natural Light Game Further?
Basically, natural light is a safe choice. It will work great with presets and you can focus on other things such as composition, mood or framing. This is especially useful when you are taking photos of big events (e.g. weddings) when you want to make sure that there will be some great photos people can enjoy. So taking at least a couple of pictures in natural light is always a great idea.
However, natural lighting can be pretty flat. You will not have much control over the light. Thus, if you want to add more variations, you can look into a reflector, which can help you create dimension and depth.
What does a reflector do?
A reflector is an inexpensive reflective surface that is used by directing light towards a given subject. For example, your subject is in from of the camera and behind him or her there is a sunset. In this case, you try to catch the sunset's light with a reflector and direct it towards a subject. This creates a darker background and makes your subject lighter. This way there is higher contrast and more power in your image.
How to Use a Reflector?
There are only two things you need to keep in mind: 1) make sure that the available light is hitting the reflector, 2) play with different angles (do not reflect the brighter light from below of your model's face).
There are multiple reflector colors: white, silver, golden, black and translucent. Silver is the easiest one to use so it's a great start. However, once you see the results from it, you will most definitely be intrigued to test out the other reflectors as well.
Golden Hour Lighting
Talking about lighting and not mentioning the golden hour would be a crime. What is the golden hour? It's the time shortly after sunset or sunrise. Taking photos during this time is amazing because without even trying too hard you will create stunning photos.
Golden hour lighting will color your photos with soft and warm tones. During this time, your photos will gain mellower and redder tones.
Don't overlook the smaller lights that you could place in the background. Just like in the interior design, these lights can add coziness in photography as well.
Make sure that they aren't distracting. In other words, your subject should still be the main thing that the eye focuses on when people see your photo. However, it can be a great accent and a final touch.