Some of the elements of natural light are clouds, sun and time of day. Based on climate and weather, there are a gazillion combinations of clouds and sun and time of day.
You would think that if you just get your subject in some sunshine, enough to light them, then VOILA! you will have a great photograph. Nope. So then clouds must be the key. Put that subject in the shade or wait for it to be cloudy, and there you have it, a very viable photograph. Nope again.
Bright sunshine throws harsh shadows and clouds tend to make for flat lighting. Oy vey!
Sure you can change those camera settings, but if you haven't leaned to USE your light properly, you can dial up all the camera settings in the world and it won't help you.
What is a photographer to do?
For me, personally, learning to photograph properly with studio lighting and off camera flash has completely changed how I photograph in natural light (no flash at all). Lighting my subjects in studio has taught me good and bad lighting, soft and hard shadowing and the importance to using lighting and shadow to create a pleasant photograph.
Here is a photograph of an English Setter enjoying some sunshine.
Since taking quite a number of sessions, classes and courses about "finding the right light," I can more readily identify the spot in a scene where the subject might do best.
Below is my own dog, Lilah, hanging over the couch looking out a window. Again, nothing but natural window light here, and it is reflecting off snow. I have used this photo once before to illustrate a different point. Here I use indoor shade counterbalanced against outdoor bright white light. And yes, there was a reflector involved. But what does a reflector do? It reflects the bright light onto the subject, so I manipulated the natural light.
Finally, I have one recent (just a day ago) photo illustrating how useful finding the right spot on a very cloudy day can be. Especially when you have set up an outside scene for Christmas and holiday photos, and the sun is not cooperating.
The light is funneling in from my left (her right) where there is a large opening with no trees, but the scene is set somewhat into the wooded area on my right (her left) to allow for natural shadowing. I love this photo of her because she is a rescue and has come a very long way, and her Mom has been a client since she came into her life, so I have been able to see her progress.
So, clouds or sun, if you become more aware of finding the light that will be the most flattering to your subject, or that will help you tell a story, you will ultimately have a great photo! I can highly recommend taking some studio lighting classes if you have photographed in only natural light. I look forward to taking more, because we never stop learning, and I love working with light!
I can't wait to see what others in the circle have come up with this week. Have a great weekend, and start your blog journey with Tracy Allard of Penny Whistle Photography fetching portraits in Coppell and surrounding communities in the Dallas - Fort Worth metroplex.