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Monday, 14 November 2011

Understanding Light - The Properties of Light and How to Apply Them to Your Outdoor Photo Shoots

Unfortunately, when it comes to light in photography it is though only in terms of exposure. If there is enough light for the correct exposure, than it is just fine for most photographers. But there is much more to light then just exposure.

Light has various properties that ultimately produce different effects. It is imperative that a photographer understands light in a way that he can take advantage and control light. In order to comprehend light one must be familiar with its properties.

Emily Didonato
Light has three main properties that are of particular interest to a photographer.


This is also referred to as the intensity of light. The amount of light available will determine the exposure and vibe of the photo.


This refers to the type of light that will produce a definite level of contrast and depth. This is of extreme importance when doing portraiture.


Depending from which direction the light is hitting your model, will determine the overall appearance of the model being photographed.

It is important to note that these properties are present both in natural and artificial types of light.

Outdoor Photo shoots Using Natural Light

When doing an outdoor photo shoot as a photographer you should keep a few points in mind in order to archive the desired effects. A photo shoot can be done at sunrise, midday, dawn or even during the night. Remember that moon light is another source of natural light.

It must be pointed out that there is no correct type of light for each and every subject, but in terms of texture, shape and depth a type of light is preferred over another.

The following are some effects produced by natural light. By understanding these attributes, light can be used to your advantage.

Direct Sunlight

Textures are prominent and details are sharp. It creates strong shadows and in turn high contrast. Colour is very saturated though it degrades highlights easily.

Diffused Sunlight

Shadows are softer and contrast is low. Strongly diffused light reduces colour saturation and can create an unhappy feeling. On the other hand moderately diffused light gives better colour saturation from most directions.


Greatly reduces details and shadows and creates an enveloping type of light. It produces weaker colours. Particular care must be taken since this type of light tends to produce flare.

Understanding the various properties of light is vital to create the specific moods and effects needed for each and every particular outdoor photo shoot. By learning to handle light properly the opportunities in creating better and more creative work are endless.

Next time you are directing and posing your models, make sure that you have analysed the type of natural light you are working with. This way you are sure to ameliorate your results.

An easy to follow, step by step course in mastering the art of digital photography is Learn Digital Photography Now If you would like to further your knowledge in digital photography, I strongly recommend that you aquire this product.

Author: Michael Abela


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