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Natural light

Contrary to popular belief, the middle of a sunny day isn't the best time to take a picture. Learn to identify different types of natural light and recognize their benefits in various situations.


Whatever the weather, weather the weather
Any kind of weather is suitable for picture-taking, and the worst weather may actually suit your subject best.

An overcast day is actually preferable for portraits—there are no harsh shadows under eyes, noses, and chins, and nobody has to squint. Flowers also photograph best on a cloudy day, especially pastel-colored flowers with soft textures.

Is it raining? Don't dismay. Look at how a wet street shines and reflects headlights and traffic signals. And a calm, rainy day means better reflections of the autumn leaves across the lake. Just take care that you don't soak your camera. And in dark fog or rain, remember to use +0.5 or +1.0 exposure compensation.

The weather will affect the mood of your picture. Soft, foggy light will convey a very different feeling from the one the same scene conveys on a bright sunny day.



Perfect timing
You may not have the luxury of waiting hours, even days, for the perfect light. Children walk away, and the tour bus has a schedule to keep. When something about a scene isn't quite right, though, consider when it would be better.

  • A city skyline is boring at noon. Try sunrise or sunset.
  • Wait until late afternoon (side lighting) to emphasize texture, like on a weathered fence.
  • Wait for a calm day to capture reflections on water.
  • Use the warm glow of late afternoon to create a romantic mood.