Nikon School

Understanding light

By : Nikon School Blog   |  30 Jun, 2015  |  126

Just as good ingredients make good cuisine, the right ingredients make an attractive image. Of course, everyone knows light is the most important ingredient in photography. Often we tend to forget this and hope to achieve great results without thinking much about light.

The first important decision a photographer has to make is - when to shoot. It does not make sense if you travel all the way to a famous monument, only to find it backlit from the sun behind it. Of course, there are techniques to correct it, but it's always better to reach when the sun is in favourable direction. Find out about the direction of light while planning to shoot at any outdoor location.

In case you have no choice but to shoot a subject against the sun, expose for the lit part, and use active D'lighting to correct the shadows. The best results will come out if you shoot in RAW format.

Even with your subject facing the sun, you may encounter problems, if the time of the day is not chosen well. Sunlight, early in the morning or about an hour before sunset, is mild and has a warm golden cast, often known as 'golden light'. This is the best time to shoot landscapes as well as portraits. Since this light is 'soft' it does not create harsh shadows, and as the light comes from a more horizontal angle than mid-day sun, subjects appear more three-dimensional.

As the sun goes higher up in the sky, the shadows get harsher. The light becomes whitish, resulting in flat colours, not suited for both landscapes and portraits. Try to avoid harsh sunlight as much as you can.

However, the harshness can be used effectively to create high contrast monochrome images.

If you have to shoot portraits in toppish sun, place them under shade, where the harshness is almost eliminated.

Top : Portraits in harsh sunlight Bottom : Portraits in diffused light in shade

In cloudy or overcast weather, the sky acts as a huge diffuser, resulting in soft, diffused light. This light is very good for portraiture, but not particularly suited to landscape photography, as the image will lack contrast. Colours, though, will appear more saturated, particularly if under-exposed a bit. In such conditions, slight warming up of the scene by selecting cloudy white balance can improve landscapes.

In situations where there is no light coming directly from the sun, like dawn (time just before sunrise) and dusk (time just after sunset), the sky can look dramatic, depending upon the season and location. Such situations can provide brilliantly coloured skies, making landscape shooting a good option, provided a tripod is carried, due to low ambient light. For portraits, this light may not work well, due to too less contrast, as well as lack of sufficient intensity.

There can be numerous ways to overcome bad light, but most important is to prepare in a way that light is favourable for your shoot. So, the next time you go hunting for great images, don't forget to think and prepare for the light.

Comments (85)

 

Mr. Mohd Shadab

nice photography

Mr. Mohd Shadab

very nice

Mr. Vivekananda Pradhan

Awesome captures

Mr. Debashis Jana

Amazing stuff

Mr. Debashis Jana

Amazing stuff

Mr. Debashis Jana

Amazing stuff

Mr. Debashis Jana

Amazing stuff

Mr. Debashis Jana

Amazing stuff

Mr. Abhinava Pandey

vast subject introduced briefly

Mr. Abhinava Pandey

interesting

Mr. Vivek Sarvaiya

helpful and informative blog. thanks

Mr. Debashis Jana

Detailed blog

Mr. Debashis Jana

Detailed blog

Mr. Debashis Jana

Detailed blog

Mr. Debashis Jana

Detailed blog

Mr. Debashis Jana

Detailed blog

Mr. Vivekananda Pradhan

Perfect photos to set right examples

Mr. Vivekananda Pradhan

Perfect photos to set right examples

Mr. Vivekananda Pradhan

Perfect photos to set right examples

Mr. Vivekananda Pradhan

Perfect photos to set right examples

Mr. Vivekananda Pradhan

Perfect photos to set right examples

Mr. Manish Vig

Very informative and well written. Thanks.

Mr. Sandeep Te

Good info

Mr. vijaykumar S

very useful info

Mr. Huzaifa Asger ali

good information

Mr. Sumit Singh

To understand natural lights and how they may affect your pic an easy task may be undertaken ; in that look for a fixed subject in your vicinity and click it at different times of the day and even may continue during diiferent weather conditions and then check the results to know what has been the impact of ambient light on the image shot during different conditions. Keep the settings unchanged rather use manual mode while doing thus.

Mr. Athish Sanjay Itagi

Helpful

Mr. Athish Sanjay Itagi

Helpful

Mr. George Jonsoi

nice

Mr. SUMAN KUMAR

but apart from light what all should be considered to have a great depyh of field in foto.

Mr. SUMAN KUMAR

but apart from light what all should be considered to have a great depyh of field in foto.

Mr. SUMAN KUMAR

very informative.

Mr. Vivekananda Pradhan

Fine

Mr. Bhaskar Nath

good info

Mr. Vishal Sanwal

gud

Mr. Parag Jadhav

Very helpful for beginners.

Thanks for useful information

Mr. sanjib chatterjee

Nice and effective

Mr. Dome Manikantan

Really valuable learning material

Mr. SANDEEP SEN

Good information. Helpful.

Mr. SANDEEP SEN

Giood Information.

Mr. Parag Jadhav

Very Useful information.

Mr. Nihal Aslam S

usefull tip for understanding light

Mr. Nihal Aslam S

usefull tip for understanding light

Mr. Nihal Aslam S

Excellent info

Mr. Aryan Kathuria

Thanks alot

Mr. VIKASH SHARMA

thanks..its very helpful

Mr. VIKASH SHARMA

thanks..its very helpful

Mr. Pratul Pal

Share some more information about light...

Mr. Pratul Pal

if we shoot in cloudy or overcast weather the picture is lack of colour... what should we do in this situation for a bright colour?

Mr. Pratul Pal

Nice photography....

Mr. Pratul Pal

But we need some more information about the proper use of light.....

Mr. Pratul Pal

very useful information....

Mrs. Barnali Roy

useful

Ms. deepika kumari gupta

Gud one

Ms. pankaj kumar

useful information

Mr. Anurag Tomar

really nice and helpfull.........

Mr. Prabir Chakraborty

thanks helpfull....

Mr. Pritesh Pokle

First landscape image used in this article is also stunning.

Mr. Pritesh Pokle

Helpful article as understanding lights and making its proper use is very difficult.

Mr. kamalluchan gogoi

nice article

Mr. Parag Jadhav

Nice one...

Mr. Sandeep Kumar

The more you practice and experiment, the better understanding to shoot a photograph under different lighting condition.

Mr. Sandeep Kumar

Dawn and dusk are the best time to capture nice photographs. Lights are suitable. But again direction of light also matters.

Mr. Sanjay Lal

Great article ! Exif info could have been practically helpfull.

Mr. vidya kumar

very general article.. things could have been better if for each picture , preferred camera settings (screen shots) are illustrated .. it could help practically

Mr. vidya kumar

very general article.. things could have been better if for each picture , preferred camera settings (screen shots) are illustrated .. it could help practically

Mr. shiladitya halder

very good article..... I am waiting for article on filters for various oitdoor situation

Mr. Jagpreet Thakur

Very Helpful tips..Thanks for sharing..

Mr. Sandeep Kumar

It would have been good if some more information like lens used, aperture, shutter speed and ISO are mentioned for the photographs used in the article.

Mr. Sandeep Kumar

Good article. Various situations explained. Very helpful and informative.

Mr. Swadhin Dutta

Thanks for sharing the helpful tips

Mr. Kaustav Ray

Great article. One suggestion - would be goo to add more info about these pics (e.g. - lense used, aperture, shutter speed and ISO) as that would help us learns more into the details of each photograph.

Mr. Danda Srinivasa Rao

good

Mr. rajesh joshi

i have been photogrphing since long but now i realised without basics photography is dumb,awesome lessons and mind opening features,thank u.

Mr. Jagpreet Thakur

Thanks for the tips..

Mr. Vipul Goel

very helpful tips..thanks

Mr. Amit Nimade

Ok

Mr. Mukul Mathur

Very Helpful tips you have shared buddy. Thanks !!!

Mr. Mukul Mathur

Beautiful Pictures !!! I Like the most that dome above the Taj Mahal !!!

Mr. Arup Ghosh

Thank you for the tips.

Ms. Saara Naseer

This is indeed a good article. I just started photography and am learning. This helps a lot. Thanks

Mr. DR ANIL GUPTA

Very good article

Mr. chongtham ramananda singh

helpful to me as i m new to the photography. thank you for sharing

Mr. Arvind Kumar

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