The most important element in photography is light. Whether or not you use natural light or artificial light, controlling and using what you have will determine the outcome of the photograph.

Artificial light has many advantages. You can control the direction and intensity of the light. You can move it to make adjustments. You can shoot indoors and set-up whatever background you desire. You can add it to outdoor photography to add intensity or just brighten up a face. You can take photographs regardless of the weather.

Artificial light is also expensive, often bulky, and requires electricity. You also need to understand how to use it!!

For those who just want to take a better picture without adding to their photography equipment, natural light fits the bill. Natural lighting is usually the sun. It can also be reflections and or any source that creates a light.

Morning sunlight gives a cool blue light. Afternoon sun emits a warm orange light. The midday sunlight is white and harsh. Try to avoid outdoor photography in midday, unless you want the harsher effect.

I pefer the afternoon light for portraits.

warm light

This photograph of my puppy was taken without flash. You can see the shadowed darkness where the sunbeam did not fall. I set a bone (yikes, I know- on the carpet!!) where the sunlight fell in the living room. I scooted him around until his head and most of his body was in the light. I then laid on the carpet near him and took the picture.

I was using a 50mm lense, also call a 1" or normal lenses. I got nearer to take a close-up shot. You do not have to worry about "red-eye" or, for animals, milky blue eyes.

puppy eating bone

If you have a baby, this technique will allow you to take wonderful natural photos. Just lay the baby on a blanket in the sunbeam, and click away!! No harsh shadows or flashes.

Using a sunbeam can add a sense of drama to an ordinary photo.

light from outside

My daughter was riding her horse in an indoor arena. The arena was dark and I hadn't been able to get any sharp pictures. The only light coming in was at the gate. For about two hours in the afteroon, sunlight poured through this small section. So, I waited and when they passed and sunlight lit them, I took this shot.

While photographing this lovely horse, I had the owner lead her to the same gate as before. There was plenty of light to get a sharp portrait.

natural light

Be careful to take a light reading at the spot you will be shooting, or your camera may read the shadowed area instead. Most of us have automatic settings, so just point at the subject only and do not get an overall reading.

For objects, such as this guitar, the natural light can enhance the object without flash reflections.

guitar detail

It is fun to experiment with sunlight. It is free, doesn't need packing and you don't have to plug it in.