Project 52- Week 7

Hey everyone!  Happy Friday!  I hope you enjoyed celebrating (or not celebrating) Valentine's Day this week.  ;)

Our Project 52 theme this week is NATURAL LIGHT!  This means that you create your images with no flash or external/artificial light (although use of a reflector is permitted).  I happen to be a natural light photographer, so this approach is utilized in all of my images.  I wanted to try to show some of the different scenarios you run in to as a natural light photographer. 

The first scenario we will look at is a completely overcast day.  The light is definitely soft (which I usually prefer), but it is extremely dull.  You do not get much of a catchlight in the eyes of your subject.  Catchlights are important because they give "life" to your subject.  The following image is virtually SOOC (straight out of camera) with only a minor tweak in exposure.

The next scenario is harsh midday sun.  This is the scenario that is far from ideal and that most photographers try to avoid at all costs.  The reason for this is because the sun is super bright and causes very harsh shadows and very bright highlights all at the same time.  Our cameras simply aren't capable of capturing all of that data in one shot.  And, more importantly, it's just not flattering for your subject.  One situation in which it can be useful is when taking action shots.  You need a ton of light so that you shutter speed will be high enough to freeze the action.  This image is a result of trying to have your subject face the sun when it is high in the sky and harsh...

And even if you do get them with their eyes open, it is still not the most flattering light...

If you have no choice but to shoot in harsh sunlight, you can try placing your subject in the shade or between yourself and the sun.  This way, they do not have to look directly into the bright light.  Your camera does have to look into the direction of the light, though, so try to shade your lens (either with your hand or a lens hood) to prevent excessive lens flare and washing out your image.  You will notice a large flare at the top of this image, but it's a drastic improvement over the previous image.  

Natural light can vary drastically in such a short amount of time.  The next image was taken just a minute after the previous two.  A big cloud came by and provided a large amount of shade.  Notice that there are better catchlights in Buster's eyes in this image compared to the first image where it was an overcast day and the entire sky was covered in clouds.  It's just soft and gorgeous light!

The ideal scenario for outdoor natural light photography is "golden hour".  This occurs the hour after sunrise or before sunset.  This is when the light is the softest and has a beautiful golden glow to it.  Unfortunately, I do not have a perfect example for this from this week, but this next image was taken just after the sun dropped below a house located behind our house.  We lost the sun before golden hour, but it still softened the light hitting our backyard and allowed for a beautiful portrait.

The final scenario is indoor natural light.  Shooting indoors using only natural light can be a bit tricky.  You really have to be aware of the available light and how you can best utilize it.  Your first inclination may be to open the blinds and turn on every light in the house.  Opening the blinds is great, but you do NOT want to turn on all the lights.  Light bulbs in general have a completely different color to them than sunlight.  Each individual bulb can give off a different color.  This makes it next to impossible to get your image to be the proper/true color.  The following images were shot with the EXACT same settings just a few seconds apart.  We have a huge window in our living room.  The first image was taken with the blinds closed and the second image was taken with the blinds open (both of these are SOOC).

Finally, this one is just too darn cute not to share.  All natural light from the big window in our living room.  :)

WOO HOOO!!!  If you are reading this you made it through my long post!  I am typically a person of few words, but light is such a complicated subject and I wanted to try to help even just one person understand it a bit better.  Please don't forget to check out Darlene with Pant the Town Pet Photography serving MA and NH next!!  She has something really "cool" in store for you.  ;)