Photography Tip: Light

By: Linda Dobosenski

October 29, 2018

Category: Arts

One of the great things about spending time outdoors is witnessing nature's beauty. Whether it's a flower along the trail, a bird that lands near you, or a stunning fall display reflecting in a calm lake that catches your eye, a perfect photo op is around every turn on the trail.

Whether your goal is to be Instagram-worthy or to simply capture a memorable moment, there are several things that go into getting the image you're looking for. Today, we're talking about light.  

Light can make or break your photography; too much of it will lead to high contrast, and not enough can leave your photo grainy and dark — especially when using a cellphone. Here are a few suggestions for thinking about light in your photography.

1. Natural Light Instead of Flash

Keep your flash down, and always take advantage of natural light when possible. An exception is if the sun is behind your subject, which can cause silhouetting. In this case, the flash can help brighten up your subject. 

2. Cloud Cover

Even when the sun is high in the sky, clouds help calm its light. The result is often softer, cooler photos.  

a branch with pine cones on a cloudy day.
Photo by Linda Dobosenski.

3. Golden Hour 

Shortly after dawn and before dusk the sun is close to the horizon, offering a softer, golden touch and better details to photos. When the sun is high, light and shadow are at their highest contrast, and you will likely lose detail in the shadows and/or brightest areas of your scenes.

purple flowers glowing gold in the golden hour, set against a green background.
Photo by Linda Dobosenski.

4. The Calm After A Storm

The sky is often covered by light clouds after a rain. The soft lighting and moisture in the air helps intensify color in landscapes. Additionally, close-ups become extra-compelling with the added water droplets.

a branch covered in dew drops with small reddish flowers hanging from it.
Photo by Linda Dobosenski.

5. Blue Hour

Go outside just after sundown and check out the blue hour if your phone or camera is good at low-light scenes. The sky’s blue is so rich. Try capturing a dramatic silhouette!

a large tree with twisting branches silhouetted against a blue-purple sky with a full moon shining through the branches.
Photo by Linda Dobosenski.

Now what are you waiting for? Get outside and take some well-lit photos! Don't forget to share them with us by using #ThreeRiversParks or #ThreeRiversParkDistrict.

About the Author

A woman with grayish brown hair wearing a blue and black plaid zip-up.

Linda is a photographer and art educator at Silverwood Park. She thinks everyone has an inner artist and enjoys helping people find theirs if they think they don’t have one. She is a big believer that the best camera is the one you have with you and that photography is a way to communicate and build appreciation for things that might otherwise be overlooked.


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