Grasping The Light.

Having an understanding on this just makes you powerful.


The word grasping could have two annotations – understanding and capturing. Here we mean both. A good understanding of light is essential to scoring good images. You simply cannot shot great images unless you have a fine understanding of the nature of light and how it behaves over the course of the day and over the course of several seasons.

The color of light changes quite dramatically over the course of the day. It is magical at the golden hour, which is the early morning just after sunrise and late afternoon just before sunset. This is widely considered to be the two best times to shoot outdoor / natural light portraits.

Grasping light also means you have to know how to modify it to your advantage. The choice of light modifiers for natural light is limited. But there are some. One of them, believe it or not, is a white sheet. The sort of we use on our beds. A white sheet would allow you to work outdoors in the harshest time of the day – noon. It blocks out the sun's direct light and creates a nice soft shadow which you can use as a soft wrap around light for portraits etc.

Another tool that you can use is a reflector. This is a very simple item which has a silver reflective side and a matte white side. Sometimes three-in-one reflectors are also available such as the one with a black inner layer. These reflectors are perfect for throwing some light back on to the subject or blocking it when necessary.

Capturing light is the second bit. This includes a good understanding of how much light to capture for the image you have in mind. If you are going to shoot a portrait image at blue hour, you will need to understand that there will be two exposures for the same shot. One is for the ambient light, that includes the sky mainly and a little bit of the scene if any, and the second exposure will be for the subject's face.

Related: Understanding Light | Digital Photo Secrets

Related: Understanding Natural Light Part 1: Quality of Light | Digital Photography School

Related: Understanding Natural Light Part 2: Color of Light | Digital Photography School

Related: How to Understand Natural Light Part 3: Direction of Light | Digital Photography School