One of the very important skills I learned in my Photography profession is the ability to judge the quality of light for good photography. If you want to be a proficient photographer, then it is vital for you to know how the direction of light and its degree of dispersion are controlled and how they affect the pictures. You will have to learn the best times to shoot, as well as recognize the ideal lighting conditions to get perfect shots. Let’s dive deeper into it in this blog post.
1. Diffused vs. Direct : Photographing on a warm sunny day can be a nice work experience if you get the chance to shoot in direct sunlight obscured by thin clouds. A high and gentle cloud can nicely diffuse the light and make it even and uniform. It is because clouds act like a diffuser that gives the light a soft quality. With too many clouds, the light can go flat and result in a boring and shadow-less scene.
2. Height of the sun : I love photographing in the hour that follows sunrise or precedes sunset. This is the magical hour or golden hour for photographers. The magical hour is the half hour before and after sunrise and sunset. During this time, a warm and rich light makes everything look great. The best light is created when the sun is low across the horizon. It gives your image the warm, rich shadows. It is a great time to get beautiful images if you are planning to shoot landscapes, skylines, or nature.
Sometimes, it is not possible to get access to your subjects during the best times of the day. In such cases, your best bet to shoot should be during the right season, not during the right time of the day. In Portland, Oregon, winter offers light that you can work with during most part of the day, because the angle of the sun is low on the horizon at those times. Look for light that is low and you will get dynamic images, as when the light is high in the sky, it is too harsh to shoot.
3. What color is the light : Is it the soft blue light of a high overcast sky or the golden light of sunrise? Determine the quality of the light prior to shoot. This measurement is important and beneficial when you want to correctly white balance your camera. Light can be measured in terms of temperature (degrees Kelvin).
When you move from indoor light to outdoor light, your eyes compensate for the color change automatically, but your camera cannot (unless it is in an auto white balance mode). So, it is important that you white balance for the lighting conditions properly.
- Quick and advanced tips
Shooting a sunset:
- Attempting to shoot a sunset is much simpler. The sun moves pretty quickly, so you should make the most of the light you have.
Shooting at sunrise:
- Use a calculator or a compass to know the position of the sun and decide where to frame your shot. It can be difficult to know how to compose the shot without it.
Shooting during sunrise or sunset:
- When shooting a subject at sunset or sunrise, you will have to keep the light in front of your subject. Because the sun moves, you may need to shoot by rotating your position.