Creating the perfect natural light photo

Natural light photography is the art of creating photos using natural light without the use of flash or studio lighting. Creating a great looking shot isn’t easy when first getting started. All too often people buy overly expensive professional cameras expecting to be able shoot just like a professional photographer. Unfortunately after many failed attempts to get anything better than what looks like a iPhone photo people give up and the $5000 camera ends up sitting at the bottom of a cupboard somewhere or sold on eBay for far less than it was purchased for.


Natural light photography is fantastic way to learn the basics of light and dark and getting a great image becomes pretty easy once you figure the right camera settings for your environment. The best time to photograph is generally the afternoon, especially in wintertime the sun is more diffused as it’s further away from the earth and gives off brilliant pink and orange hues. However any time of year in the afternoon is fine.


Try taking shots with the sun at a 45 degree angle from the subject with the sun in the background but not in your frame, just on dusk or fifteen minutes prior to sunset. Make sure your backdrop is something natural and pretty like a tree line. Another good tip is to get greenery in the foreground as well as the background and have your aperture, or f-stop if you please, set low enough to capture your subject in focus but not all surrounding environment. Another shot you can try for is to have the sun diffused by tree branches and leaves and directly behind the subject, kneel down, this gives an amazing glow effect behind your subject be it an animal or human. It’s best to avoid midday shots as the sun will cast shadows on your subject no matter where you or the subject are positioned.


When shooting with the sun to your back it’s a good idea to try and have the light diffused as much as possible with a low ISO setting. These kind of shots can be quite dark even morbid looking however it’s a really neat effect. The best thing you can do is practice, practice, practice. Change settings in manual mode, DO NOT USE Auto-focus, use spot focus, and always run in manual camera mode. For tips on learning how to use manual mode see this post.


Look for fields that contain midges (tiny biting flies), bugs such as mosquitoes, flower pollen and other such small objects floating in the air. When these are light up by the afternoon sun they produce amazing flare effects coloured by the sun.

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