Don't get me wrong, I LOVE NATURAL LIGHT! Just the right kind of light can help to make a fantastic portrait of any subject. And it's true that the best times to take photographs is in the very early morning or just before sunset, but sometimes clients have conflicts which do not allow them to necessarily meet at these wonderfully-lit times of day.
I like to spend some time taking practice shots in all kinds of natural light conditions, but Pennsylvania winters generally are their own gray card, and sometimes we don't see the sun for 10 days. So I am learning to become proficient in dull light.
The saving grace is SNOW! Snow really brightens up the landscape and helps with reflection (the good). It can also reflect too much, be too bright, and become a vast wasteland of undefined nothingness (the bad).
This past week, while digging out from our second snow and ice storm, I had a chance to photograph our new neighbor's dog, a German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP) named Maverick, who was a willing participant, and enjoyed the snow way more than I enjoyed shoveling it.
1) Analyze the quality of light around you. (Look for the spots that will give you the best photo options.)
2) Look for contrasts to help you in dull lighting situations. (Generally these contrasts will come out much better on a dull, gray day, than on a bright, sunny one.)
3) Watch your white balance. (Remember, snow tends to have a blueish tone.)
4) Overexpose for snow. Although this is counter-intuitive, the light meters in our cameras want to "fix" things for us and move in the direction of medium bright, but if you want the snow to be WHITE, you need to increase the exposure. (In the photo above I increased my exposure by 1 and 1/2 f-stops.
5) On a sunny snow day, use a lens hood. This helps with the massive reflections of the sun on snow effect.
And, as Maverick shows us, even when our light is right, that doesn't always mean both ears will be. (This face just makes me laugh out loud!) I hope to take many more photos of Maverick, who is absolutely one of the friendliest dogs on the planet.
Now, because there are many more ways to use natural light, and many more people in our blog circle to give you examples, start here with Rochelle from Dark Sapphire Pet Photography in Nelson, New Zealand, then travel around the blog until you see this page again. We are now headed into a warm up period weatherwise, but we Pennsylvanians know that more snow and cold are on the horizon through March and sometimes into April, so we are not fooled, Mother Nature! Enjoy your weekend with whatever light you find yourself in!