Sunday, March 13, 2011

Shutterbug Sunday: Natural Light

I positioned them so the sun was to their backs.
Since spring is just around the corner (fingers crossed), and everyone is itching to slip on their flip flops, I thought it would be fun to think about natural light. Believe it or not when I first was starting out and clueless, shooting in manual mode using natural light seemed so intimidating to me! I was more than happy to keep using the basic P mode on my camera, but thankfully my husband encouraged me to branch out and LEARN! You have all seen those pictures. The ones where the everyone is sitting perfectly and its close to being a perfect photograph, except for one HUGE problem. All of the subjects faces are squinty and distorted from the direct sun. I made this mistake many times back in the beginning!

Shady spot with a tree as a natural reflector.
When scheduling summer sessions in NY you never know what you’re going to get for weather. I have had clients ask me on several occasions if we should reschedule due to the overcast gray skies. From a normal persons perspective a cloudy day does not seem like a good day for pictures. Due to our severe lack of sunny days around here we consider a perfect day to be warm with lots of sunshine. But for the rest of us behind the camera, a forecast of cloudy skies is music to our ears! On cloudy days the sky acts as one giant soft box which makes almost any outdoor location ideal. On sunny days however, let’s just say my job is a whole lot harder! So what do you do when the sun is blazing and you want to avoid those squinty eyed and scrunched face pictures? Concentrate on shaded areas, try using natural reflectors, and pay attention to how you position your subjects. The first thing I do is look for areas with shade. The shade will provide you with the break you need from the sun, but will still allow for you to shoot your subjects with natural light. The second thing I for look are natural reflectors. This could be almost anything that works to softly reflect the suns light onto your subjects. It could be a wall, a tree, or other object in the area. Lastly, if your chosen spot is short on shade, and placing people in direct sun is your only option, position them so the sun is either to their backs or their sides. This should also help to eliminate the harsh shadows and scrunched eyes. So the next time you’re out taking pictures in the hot sun, try to use natures natural soft boxes and reflectors. It might just make all the difference!
Shady Spot
For some great info on using natural reflectors check out this blog post from Jasmine Star, and amazing “GO TO Photographer”.

Enjoy your day!


  1. If you have specific tips you'd like to see....drop us a line OR Mary. We can focus on a subject of your choosing in the future.

  2. Thanks for the ideas. Sun is SO hard to work around. It seems like the black and white might be good on those days too.

  3. I like the candid her laughing in the top photo. But, do you find people like to order them...or do they order more of the posed shots?

  4. I have found that it really depends on the clients. I always try to give them a variety of both candid, and posed shots so they can choose for themselves. I have noticed though, the majority of the times the posed shots are whats ordered, especially for enlargements. Hope thats helpful!


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