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Natural light // Light quality

Light has different qualities, and we can understand these differences and use them to our advantage, definitely understanding how natural light works will help you become a better photographer.

And this will be the subject of the article on how natural light works and how to define Light quality.

Natural light: Light quality

Exploring the difference between hard or harsh light and soft light is a long endearing, but each will show no value and will also have its pros and cons.

To use natural light is not only to use such a source of illumination in your portraits, but also to know how to use the color and intensity of this light in order to create a visual history in what we want to portray.

Things like direction and intensity will greatly affect the final image, even if you’re a studio photographer understanding how natural light works is key.

natural light

Light quality – Harsh light and soft light.

Soft light

Soft light is characterized by low light levels, lack of shadows, a small and delicate difference between dark and light areas.

natural light

A mild lighting situation is characterized by the lack of shadows and cool tones during cloudy weather, and colors like green and blue fit very well in these situations.

It is a type of light that you will not find at any time nor anywhere on the globe, in the winter of the North Pole for example it will be quite difficult to find natural lu soft.

Usually it is kind of light to find at the tip of the day, during dawn and dusk, also known as Golden Hours, you will also find such natural light condition when the sky is cloudy.

natural light

Hard light or hard light

Harsh light on the other hand produces long, deep shadows and is characterized by strong light levels.

Usually we say that it is the type of light that has great difference in the light and dark areas of the image.

By the large difference of contrast the hard light will always strengthen the colors leaving them more intense and saturated.

natural light

In hard light there is a huge amount of contrast between the dark and light areas of the image and some details can get very light or very dark, but this is can be a desired effect depending on which story you want to tell.

When we talk about natural light we will always depend on the weather, and with the hard light not different, usually you find this type of light a few hours after sunrise, about 2, and it will extend up to about 1 hour before the sunset.

And of course in a few hours it will be a challenge to shoot with this type of light, as for example in the midday sun.

One of the greatest qualities of this type of light is also its main problem, the great difference of contrast.

Unlike our sophisticated eyes, the camera is still not able to handle this difference. Thus, the result will be the loss of detail in the image, making some areas too light or dark unwanted for example.

Some photographers mistakenly think that this condition (the loss of detail) is due to a mistake they made in operating their camera.

Thus, the first step to the solution is to understand the problem.

Shooting in harsh light, with loss of detail, is not something you can correct during post-production work, so always twice in photos under such light conditions.

The best solution for this case is to move the subject to be photographed to an area where the hard light does not get in the way so much, and if this is not possible, changing the adjustments on your machine can always give that extra so that the photo comes out better.

Forget “good” lighting

Due to the challenges that each type of light imposes on you, most photographers usually avoid situations with harsh natural light, preferring to work under soft light conditions, which is usually more pleasing to the eye, but is not always the best choice.

natural light

You can choose hard light in order to create a picture that says more than this in the image, such as the photo above passing to the viewer a feeling that cannot be photographed, the heat.

natural light

The also pass to the spectator an air of suspense, or even macabre, with the use of a hard light.

I have a plan.

Just like in many Hollywood movies, when actors talk – I have a plan, you will also have to have a plan when it comes to relying on natural light to make your photographs.

Check the weather forecast as well as the times when the sun will rise and if by, as well as knowing the place where you will shoot is something important.

Don’t waste any more minutes sleeping while there’s light outside!

The best tips for shooting in natural light are to combine the time of day and the appropriate place to go out and shoot, according to the desired results, and always use the natural light conditions in order to tell a story.

natural light

Be flexible.

As we all know life is not always the way we would like it to be, and even if you take every care, plan every detail, climate change happens without warning and quickly, and with this your natural light condition will also change.

And in these cases it is always better to be flexible, if you can not deliver exactly what you were planning, change the plan improvise, after all you can not fight against light.

Improvise use your imagination, it’s not because the light condition has changed that you can’t even do a job.

Did you like the post? Do you have any doubts about light quality? Do you have a dca on natural light? Leave a comment!

Written by Rix Mascarenhas

Rix Mascarenhas is a photographer, videographer, and drone pilot at

Art lover, always involved with crafts, design, painting etc... As a photographer, I enjoy taking pictures and creating stories that have meaning and help people to thrive. My work is guided by the stories behind each scene that really represent the moment.

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