How to make good use of natural light
- Dec 11, 2019
- 2 Comment(s)
Photography and light are closely related, or to take a picture successfully, the first step is to learn how to use light. The natural light in different time and weather has its own characteristics, and the effect of the image is also different. It's better to analyze the characteristics of natural light in various situations and teach you how to make good use of natural light to shoot!
About natural light
We all know that only light can make photography, so light plays a very important role in the success or failure of a photo. In the indoor environment, we can use various artificial light sources, such as flashlight, light tube, etc., while in the outdoor environment, photographers can make good use of the natural light, that is, the light that the sun shines on the earth. You may find that even if you shoot the same subject, the effect of shooting will be different at different times, sometimes the image may appear more rigid, sometimes it may be softer; or for a time, the color of the image tends to be cold, sometimes it is warm, which is actually related to natural light.
The time of shooting, the weather and even the direction of the camera also affect the effect of natural light on the main body. There are three kinds of natural light projected on the main body: direct light, scattered light and reflected light. Examples of direct light are natural light that is not obscured by clouds, which will produce warmer colors, and images taken with this light will have higher contrast; scattered light, such as sunlight passing through clouds, will produce colder colors, and images taken will have lower contrast; and reflected light is light from other reflective surfaces, which is softer. As far as the subject is exposed to that kind of light, it depends on the shooting time and weather factors, which will affect the white level and contrast of the image.
Natural light changes with time
The characteristics of natural light will change with time. For example, when shooting at noon, the sun is high on our head, and the sun mostly shines down from our top, causing strong shadow on the main body. At this time, the contrast of the image is the highest. After noon, the position of the sun will gradually decline, and it will be closer to the horizontal line. At this time, the light must walk a longer distance in the atmosphere before it is projected to the same main body. The degree of scattering or diffusion of light in the atmosphere will be greater and softer light will be produced.
In addition, the original blue light will be absorbed when it passes through the atmosphere, so if the sun is closer to the horizontal line, the longer the walking distance of the light in the air is, that is, the more blue light is absorbed, the light emitted will show the effect of warm color, which explains why the sun at sunrise and sunset has the warm color of red and yellow.
Natural light in different periods
At noon, the main light is direct light. At this time, the sun is at the highest position of the day, and the light directly projects down to the main body. This kind of direct light is hard and easy to create strong shadows on the main body. For example, when photographing a portrait, the positions under the nose, eyes and neck of the main face of the portrait will produce strong shadows, and the effect may not be ideal.
In addition to the quality of light, the hue of natural light changes over time. On a clear day, the color temperature of the light at noon is about 5200-5600k. At this time, if the white balance of sunlight is used for shooting, the image presents the most natural color. If you shoot at other times, such as sunset, the color will be warmer; or if you shoot on a cloudy day, the color will be colder. Many photographers also like to make good use of the color change to create the attractive effect, or they may think that the color obtained from the noon shooting is too natural, but this time shooting also has advantages, for example, at this time, the sun frame is above us, and the light will be less reflected by the reflecting surface. At this time, when shooting the sea or lake, the water surface will have less reflection, which is more transparent.
Simulation effect: at noon, the main body of the light is mainly direct light, easy to create strong shadows on the main body.
In the morning and in the evening, the sun is between the highest and lowest position. As the light is projected from a higher position to the main body, the main body will appear more three-dimensional. The light at this time will create a slightly warm color. The quality of the light is not as good as the hard light of the light at noon. The shadow on the main body is not as strong as that at noon. These characteristics provide good shooting conditions. In places in the northern hemisphere, such as Europe, where the sunshine lasts longer in summer, the local light near evening also has the light characteristics mentioned above.
Simulation effect: the light in the morning is softer, and the shadow on the main body is not as strong as that at noon.
At sunrise or sunset, the hour after sunrise or before sunset is often called "magic hours" by photographers. At this time, the position of the sun is quite close to the horizontal line. The photographed image will show the effect of warm color, full of the taste of sunrise and sunset, which is a quite ideal picture for many photographers. Since we are infected by the warm atmosphere in the scene environment, we will try our best to keep this warm feeling in the image, so when shooting, you may as well pay attention to whether the automatic white balance function of the camera will offset this warm effect!
Simulation effect: when shooting at sunrise or sunset, the image will present warm color effect.
Dawn and dusk hours refer to half an hour before sunrise and half an hour after sunset. At this time, the sun may not appear, or the sun has set in the West. The overall environment is relatively dark, but the sky also has weak light. During this period, the color of the sky changes greatly, which may be warm red or cold blue purple.
When shooting, we should pay attention to whether the camera's automatic metering can achieve the desired effect. For example, if the camera measures light towards the sky, although the light may not be as strong as other daytime periods, the camera may also have over exposure and under exposure, which makes the scene appear dim, but a small amount of under exposure can help to preserve the scene environment atmosphere. If the scene is measured, although the main exposure can be accurate, the sky may lose its unique color at dawn or dusk due to overexposure, so the photographer may need to slightly lower the exposure compensation to maintain the scene atmosphere. In fact, we need to pay attention to this situation when shooting at sunrise and sunset.
Simulation effect: at dawn or dusk, the overall environment is relatively dark, but there is also weak light.
In cloudy days, the sun shines on the ground through the clouds. At this time, the clouds in the sky seem to become a natural soft light cover. When the light passes through the clouds, it will be refracted and diffused, forming a soft light like scattered light. The characteristic of shooting with soft light is not to produce strong shadow on the subject, which is more favorable for shooting subjects such as human figures or animals. If the day is sunny, it is also helpful for macro photography, because this light can enhance the color saturation of the subject. However, the contrast of the image taken with soft light is low, and it is weak in expressing the texture of the main body. If this kind of scattered light is reflected by the reflecting surface, the light will be more soft. In addition, the photographer should pay attention to the white level of the image, and the image taken in the overcast world may be partial to the blue tone. You can use the overcast white balance to shoot, or even add raw file to shoot. If necessary, you can process the white balance of the image in the later stage.
Simulation effect: in overcast conditions, the cloud image in the sky becomes a natural soft light mask, producing soft scattered light.