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Artificial or Natural Lighting

Many photographers at one point or another are faced with a desicion is it better to use natural or artificial light when taking photos? There is definitely not a right or wrong answer and sometimes a mix of both can be the difference in making a photo really stand apart.

To clarify the definitions of natural and artificial lighting, natural lighting can be thought of as available light, such as that produced by the sun or the moon, while artificial lighting is produced from any other source, such as a strobes, speedlights, LED lights, or even a streetlight.

Using natural light is free, abundant, and very easy to find. Understanding how to use natural light with simple tools like reflectors and/or diffusers a professional photographer can pull off brilliant shots. All you need is a camera and some sun or moonlight, and you can begin shooting immediately!  Due to the ease of use and acquisition of natural lighting, it’s generally recommended that beginning photographers start experimenting with natural light before introducing artificial light to help. 

The downside of strictly using natural light is the fact that sunlight varies greatly. Depending on your location, season, weather, and/or the time of the day.  Natural lighting can produce differing colors and contrast in your images,  and even with the help of reflectors and diffusers it's hard to control all the aspects that come with natural lighting. Midday sun tends to produce neutral white colors and extremely high contrast, while golden hours of sunrise and sunset have very warm colors and medium contrast and this is normally the ideal time to have your pictures taken since the light is less harsh. But the look you’re going for will determine the time and location of your photo shoot. 

They way around many of these outcomes is to make sure the photographer you hire understands how to incorperate natural and artificial lighting technics together on location if that is needed. Artificial lighting enables the photograpgher to manipulate the lighting effects even in the outdoors under the sun or stars. When that is done correctly you end up with a beautiful  photograph.




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