Natural light vs. studio lighting: which is better? When you research photographers, you might find some who say they only take pictures with studio lighting, claiming that it makes them seem “in a hurry” to get the perfect shot. So what exactly does this mean, and why is a natural light photographer really different from someone who doesn’t describe themselves that way? To begin to answer the question, we have to understand the light. Lighting is not one size fits all.
In natural light photography, you’ll use a pointing device, usually a hand-held camera, to point at the subjects in the scene and capture their silhouette. Usually, there are no flash settings, so you have complete control over where and when the photo ends. You can play with color temperature, contrast, or brightness. For most types of portraits, I find that the softer the background, the less dramatic the shadow on the subject. For example, if you take a picture of your children playing in a stream, try to make the bottom of the water the same color as their skin (usually pale yellow or pale pink). This will soften the shade and make the pose much more palatable.
There is a huge difference between studio lighting and natural light photography. Studio lighting uses studio lights to set the mood and atmosphere, often using bright studio lighting effects like blue colored curtains or dramatic lighting. Natural light photography, on the other hand, is when you are outside and photographing the real sunlight, the sun, as it falls on your subject. You can create mood and atmosphere by focusing on where the sun looks brightest, for example, an apple tree near a sunny area. You can also make your subject more relaxed by placing it farther from the sun or a bright area.
Many professional photographers use both types of photography, and with wedding photography being such an important event, natural light photographers often have to step in and provide a backup. I love natural light photographers! This is interesting because you can see all of the elements in a photo that you couldn’t see without the flash, but often times the photographer will not use the flash because it distorts the composition or creates an unusual look.
One of the key things to remember when working with natural light photography is that you need to avoid shadows. This applies not only to the sun, but to any source of natural light. You don’t want to cast shadows on the subjects in the image. shadows throw the whole composition and make it sloppy. Natural light photographers should focus on framing subjects, not the sun. Most studios have lighting settings available, although many don’t use them as they alter the entire image.
When natural light photography is done correctly, it can capture the drama and emotion of the subject just as well as studio lighting. It can add a real sense of beauty and romance to a portrait photographer‘s portfolio. Remember that the sun is not gold. A good portrait photographer knows this and works within the limits of available natural light, but can also give the shot a cinematic feel using the right lighting conditions.
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