Natural light

Use Natural Outdoor Light to your Advantage this Spring!

The signs of summer are all around us – birds are chirping,, trees are producing fruits and nuts, baseball teams are playing, and vacation is right around the corner! Summer is a wonderful season for outdoor photography. The excitement is apparent on everyone’s face, and nature’s fresh start sets a lovely stage for an outdoor photo. However, natural outdoor light can make or break your spring pictures.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when photographing people outdoors this season:

Avoid forcing your subjects to squint.

Kids are notorious for squinting when facing the sun. Always try to keep the sun at their backs. Even though the sun’s light is rich and warm, kids will squint when it’s in their face. Plus, a shot backlit by the sun creates a beautiful halo effect around a person’s head, and separates the subject from the background to bring out more depth in your shot. Adults can usually handle the sunlight in their face a little better than kids, and a photo lit from the front using the sun can be a beautiful shot, especially in the morning or evening. Just don’t let them squint!

Do not let the sun hit your lens and cause flare.

Backlighting your shot with the sun can help you avoid squinting and create a gorgeous halo effect, but if the sun hits your lens at the wrong angle, it will cause flare in your shot. To avoid this problem, shield the lens with your hand, or ask a friend to do it. Just make sure the hand is not actually in the shot!

Use the contrast of tones to your advantage.

When used properly, the contrast of tones between your subject and background can help the image jump off the print. A little girl in a white dress on Easter morning will stand out against a darker background. On the flipside, use a lighter tone in the background for a group of people in dark blue or black suits.

Shoot during the Golden Hours.

Professional photographers know that the best time to shoot outdoors is during the Golden Hours, either early in the morning or later in the evening, when the sun is lower on the horizon. Because of the sun’s location, the quality of the natural light given off by the sun is considered “golden.” The light is warm and complements skin tones beautifully. You can still take pictures at noon; you just have to be more creative and aware of your natural light. Take advantage of the Golden Hours this summer.

Use the shade properly.

When the sun is high in the sky, find open shade and place your subjects on the shade’s edge. The sunlight bouncing off objects in front of them will fill in the shadows. Also, avoid split light, where the subject is partially in the shade and partially in the sun. Your camera’s meter will be forced to read one way or the other, which makes highlights too hot and shadows too dark in your photo.

There are always exceptions to these guidelines,  but informal portraits or group shots will turn out much better when natural sunlight is used correctly.

Just be sure to use the natural outdoor light to your advantage!

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Penny Shurte

Penny Shurte is a freelance photographer out of Beavercreek, Ohio. She is an avid gardener, a lover of traveling, a wife, caregiver, a pet mom and a person that can make you smile. You just never know where you might find her or what she might be getting into and writing about.


Penny Shurte is a freelance photographer out of Beavercreek, Ohio. She is an avid gardener, a lover of traveling, a wife, caregiver, a pet mom and a person that can make you smile. You just never know where you might find her or what she might be getting into and writing about.