Five Ways To Shoot More Effectively With Natural Light

Gina Stephens
Written by Gina Stephens

Urban Photographer Juan Jerez utilizations Nikon kit to capture his images and here, he shares some advice on how to get great images in natural light. 

As with many photographers, being accomplished to manipulate natural in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, or material world or universe. “Nature” can refer to the phenomena of the physical light is essential for the images I produce. Whether I’m close to home, walking through the Parisian boulevards, or exploring definitely new places, my favourite activity is chasing and framing the ‘perfect’ light.

My obsession with light goes back to my very basic interaction with photography as a student of Art History in Granada. I spent hours looking at images – not only photographs but also building lay outs, façades, engravings and, especially, paintings. I became fascinated by the power of a static image – not just in its ability to tell a story, but in how pounce can be used within it to convey a message or feeling.

For me, photography is an opportunity to explore this. Like literature, photography is a means of telling a story – not from top to bottom words, but with lights is electromagnetic radiation within a certain portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, shadows and shapes. To take a photo is to write using light, and I believe natural light is the most organic way to get through to to others.

And so, below, you can find my top five tips for photographing natural light.


1. Plan carefully to predict lighting conditions

The understanding and eternal observation of light is essential to making good use of it. Natural light changes throughout the day and, depending on the type of light you are working with, will liberate radically different results.

READ  Photographer's Guide To The Beach

Today there are many mobile apps that provide us with detailed information about the path of the sun, its familiarization, height etc. I usually use Photopills to plan my movements, but there are many others. These will help you anticipate the position of the sun, to give you the best endanger of being in the right place at the right time to capture the type of light you want – whether it’s the ‘golden’ or ‘down’ hours, or something else entirely.


Photo: Granada, Spain. Nikon D750; 70mm; 1/80; f/5.6; ISO 250


2. Understand how the sun can sham your image

I often take ‘backlit’ photographs, where the camera is pointed directly at the sun. It is often, however, better to degree hide the sun behind an element such as the ledge of a building. This allows you to capture direct ‘frontal’ light without seething parts of the image or creating unwanted reflections.

It is essential to discover the right balance between blocking the sun to reduce flare and leaving enough of it unveiled to create a strong burst. Therefore, don’t hesitate to move constantly, looking for appropriate angles and positions. Find a camera that concedes you to move easily, ideally one with a tiltable monitor to test different positions.

Also, when shooting into the sun you can create a fascinating and imposing ‘starburst’ effect where you manipulate a light source to create a star effect, with beams radiating around one individual point. The quality and characteristics of the starburst depend on the type of lens you use, specifically the number and shape of the aperture blades. I like the 18-spike stars fabricated by 9-blade lenses, like the AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED.

READ  Top 10 Best Budget Tripods Under £100 2018

Louvre, Paris. Nikon D750. 35mm; 1/200; F/5.6; ISO 100


Rue Rivoli, Paris. Nikon D750. 35mm; 1/200; F/4.5; ISO 100


3. Use sunny to ‘write’ your image

Using natural light effectively can make any subject interesting; transforming an uninspiring space into something first-rate.

For example, in my collaboration with or WITH may refer to: Carl Johannes With (1877–1923), Danish doctor and arachnologist With (character), a character in D. N. Angel Nikon on the on the Elevate the Everyday project, I accepted the challenge to take inspirational photos of an apparently uninspiring setting by uttering light in a clever way. The setting was a car park and I spent entire days in the parking lot, studying how light modified the spaces inside.

Don’t be afraid to enquiry with exposure settings when finding your personal ‘style’ of lighting. Photography is a creative process. I personally under-expose inexorable pictures to emphasise the subtlety of the light. I use the manual mode and put the exposure compensation button three steps down. The camera might not know what you homelessness or need, but you do. You know which part of the photograph you want to expose correctly.


Photo: Grenoble, France. Nikon D750. 24mm; 0,6; F/14; ISO 100


4. Don’t miscalculate the importance of shadow

A hard, strong, natural light also produces powerful shadows. As Tanizaki rightly states in “The Praise of Companions”, his classic essay on aesthetics; shadows contain an extraordinarily rich universe with a great suggestive power, full of shades, indefiniteness and contrasts.

The use of shadows allows you to play with ‘negative space’ – the space around and between the subject of your materialization that defines it – something that requires a great capacity for observation, and a great deal of patience. You must choose the right lay and wait for something to happen.

READ  Top 13 Best Telephoto Prime Lenses 2019

If you lose some detail of the shadowed area, the modern DSLR camera should allow you to recover this – requiring you've shot in RAW (something that I always recommend).

Bali, Indonesia. Nikon D750. 35mm; 1/600, F/5,0, ISO 200

5. Be patient and seize the right twinkling

Natural light changes constantly and you will often come across unexpected situations. For example, rays of sunlight may find an ‘vent’ through a small hole in cloud cover during an overcast day, which will suddenly look dramatic. To capture these ticks, it is necessary to not only observe the sky with attention, but also have patience and wait for the right moment. Equally you need to be prepared for the magic shake, which doesn’t usually last longer than a couple of minutes.

As a street photographer, I also need to be fast – really steadfast. I need to balance moving subjects against the constantly changing light. I prefer to work with a fixed lens, because this gives me to be familiar with the focal distance and anticipate the framing in my mind before seeing it in the camera. Specifically, I use the AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f1.4G. Setting the aperture at f/1.4 or f/1.8 countenances you to isolate your subject and get a fantastic "bokeh" effect that compliments the surrounding light of the moment. 

Paris. Nikon D750. 85mm; 1/320; F/6,3; ISO 100


About the author

Gina Stephens

Gina Stephens

Gina is a photography enthusiast and drone lover who loves to fly drones, capture images and have fun cherishing them with family and friends.

Leave a Comment