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The secret to magical natural light

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  • The secret to magical natural light

    I'm a huge fan of natural light photography - for me nothing can quite capture the mood and tones of sunlight. Here's my simple tip to getting the most out of it:

    1. Shoot when the sun is at its lowest - just after sunrise or just before sunset are best. I will try to time my shoots around these times so that I can get the best light possible. When shooting weddings, I try to get the party in the nicest location at that time.
    2. Shoot into the sun. This is key for beautiful sparkly creamy bokeh in the background. To do this it's best to shoot in manual and expose for the couple's faces. I usually fire a couple of shots before getting the exposure right.
    3. Decide where to shoot from. If you're wanting hazy dreamy shots, shoot from a position where the sunlight is directly hitting the camera. Focusing can be a bit tricky in this situation - I tend to put my hand in front of the sun so that I can auto focus on the subject and then pull it out of the way to shoot. If you're wanting higher contrast shots, shoot from a position where your camera is in shadows.

    And that's it! Below are a few examples of putting the technique in action for some fun, colourful shots
    visit/like me at
    https://www.facebook.com/stevewhitephotography

  • #2
    I love natural light too.. i took this with the sun in shot

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    • #3
      How do you set the settings for these shots? I always get a black subject! Then i have to recompose with different settings and merge the 2 pictures in Photoshop which takes very long time with mask layers, curves, levels adjustmets etc etc...

      Could you please share your trick?
      My portfolio: http://kmphotography.eu visit for 2D and 3D galleries*
      Forums: http://kmphotography.eu/forum

      *(requires a 3D monitor or 3DTV)

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      • #4
        Originally posted by michaelkrtikos View Post
        How do you set the settings for these shots? I always get a black subject! Then i have to recompose with different settings and merge the 2 pictures in Photoshop which takes very long time with mask layers, curves, levels adjustmets etc etc...

        Could you please share your trick?

        Are you shooting in manual mode or automatic?
        http://melicetyspringphotography.wordpress.com/

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        • #5
          To get shots like this I'd set ISO as low as possible & if your camera has any dynamic range extension settings then put them at their highest. Then set both focus & exposure to a centre spot.
          Then take the shot by putting your main subject central, press the shutter button halfway to get the right exposure/focus, then re-compose & fully press the button. It sounds complicated but with a few practice shots you'll find it easy.
          I personally like AV mode for these shots to make it quick & easy to keep the aperture at F2.8-5.6 for nice background blur.

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          • #6
            I shoot in manual. I'd love to know what setting you used.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by CloverLynn View Post
              I shoot in manual. I'd love to know what setting you used.
              there are no magic settings in manual mode. Every camera is different, environments vary as well as the weather conditions.

              Low ISO
              Open up the aperture
              shoot into the direction of the sun
              spot metering

              I like to increase the exposure compensation on my cameras to get the effects I like when shooting for this effect.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by CloverLynn View Post
                I shoot in manual. I'd love to know what setting you used.
                I'd say spot metering is key here. If you're using evaluative, the camera will try to average out the scene, which probably won't be what you want. If you use spot metering, you're telling the camera to ignore most of the lighting information in the scene, (i.e. the bright sky,) and only use the lighting info from a small spot around the focus point, usually the centre one unless you've set it manually. Then if you take a metering from your subject - normally a midtone on their face - the camera will use that info to expose for the subject & not the sky. In that instance, the subject should be correctly exposed, but you will find the sky may be blown out. There are a few things you can do to help, such as play with a higher shutter speed while keeping ISO & aperture the same, but sometimes it's a choice of what you want exposed correctly, which is generally your subject.
                Hope this helps.
                Cheers,
                Narshada
                www.narshada.co.uk
                www.facebook.com/NarshadaPhotography
                www.twitter.com/NarshadaPhoto

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                • #9
                  blacked out subjects

                  michaelkrtikos; Getting the right distance from the subject and using fill flash will prevent you from getting silhouettes. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...type=1&theater

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                  • #10
                    Love shooting at sunset!! These are great images. Thanks for sharing.

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                    • #11
                      just wanna share my photo with natural light
                      this photo was taken at mid-day


                      http://flic.kr/p/dzQ47B
                      sorry, I've uploaded a picture, but the picture doesn't appear

                      Nikon D3100 | Sigma 70-300 | Location : Borobudur Temple - Indonesia | Focal Lenght : 86mm | F : 4 | Speed : 1/250sec | ISO : 200 | Metering : Center Weight Average | No Flash
                      Last edited by suryaa010; 12-10-2012, 03:27 AM.

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                      • #12
                        sorry peeps - forgot about this post. As far as settings were concerned - yep, they tend to vary a lot for different times of the year etc so I can't really give you a formula that will work every time. Here's an example though:

                        the final shot was taken late on a sunny coolish day. ISO: 100, f1.4 1/250th. Shot in RAW and had to take the exposure down a touch in post.
                        visit/like me at
                        https://www.facebook.com/stevewhitephotography

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