As you've probably heard or learned by now, photography is ALL ABOUT LIGHTING. To take better photographs, it's critical to understand how to capture that light. Last week on the blog we were talking about "6 tips for finding the best natural light inside your home." If you missed it, you can find it in the post right before this one!
Today we'll teach you several things you can do to make the best use of natural outdoor lighting when shooting in manual mode. Unless you are wanting to achieve a look with strong shadows you probably don't want to go outside at high noon and take pictures of your subject in direct sunlight. These strong shadows can cause unflattering distortion in perception.
1. Diffused sunlight
Diffused sunlight is soft and even and makes photographing outside easier. Take notice of your surroundings and you'll likely find several places throughout the day which make perfect spots to take photographs.
2. Open Shade
Find a nice shady spot under a tree, porch or canopy. If you are photographing in a place without trees, look for the shadow of a building or in an alley. This works well for portraits!
3. Overcast Days
On overcast days, the sun is hidden behind a sheet of clouds. The clouds act as a natural diffuser of the sunlight. Overcast days are your friend!! It gives you a lot more flexibility of the direction you place your subjects, as well as flexibility of timing of day that you shoot.
4. Beware of Dappled Light!!
You may be asking "What is dappled light?" Dappled light is the light coming through trees or other objects that leaves a crazy maze of light and shadows on your subjects. Little spots of highlights and shadows. This often happens especially close to mid-day when the sun is overhead. This makes it very difficult to expose properly and you end up with a speckled subject. To avoid this, it could be a simple fix of moving your subject slightly to one side where there is more consistent shade. You can also try turning your subject around so the sun is at their back.
5. Avoid the eye squints
When shooting outdoors, you never want to face your subject straight into the sun. You'll have squinty eyes and unhappy campers. Always try to face your subjects with the sun behind them or at an angle to them.
6. Golden Hour
The first hour and last hour of sunlight during the day is a photographer's holy grail! Golden Hour is when the sunlight is softest and warm and makes just about anything look good. Place your subject with the sun behind them or at a slight angle behind them and you'll be golden! Wondering when Golden Hour is? Check out the SOL app, it gives you exact times of day when lighting is best. Also, if you have a weather app on your phone just check when sunset is and subtract and hour from that and start shooting then!
We hope these tips for finding the best outdoor lighting have helped! Now go try them out!! We always love receiving feedback from our workshop attendees and followers with what you've been working on when shooting in manual mode. Send us your pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org. We love featuring you on our Instagram account - @kindredphotographyworkshops.
Angela and Kacey