Natural light is a key element in photography that can instantly make your photos look better when used properly. This is especially important since your camera options are more limited on a smartphone when compared to the options available on a DSLR camera. Today, we’ll be teaching you how to make your photos look better with tips and tricks that can be easily applied for your next photos. Take a look!

Avoid direct sunlight when taking portraits to prevent harsh unflattering shadows

Avoid direct sunlight

Have you ever been on a trip with friends or family and had that one person who is always moving you around while trying to take a group photo? Has she ever made the whole group move from one location to another just to get that perfect shot? Chances are, she knows how to use natural light and is looking for the perfect place to shoot. Reposition your subjects so that they are not directly under the harsh sun when taking photos. Taking photos in the shade is a good solution because you will still have light, but won’t be directly under the sun.

The problem with shooting photos while directly under the sun isn’t just that your subjects will most likely need to squint at the blinding sun, but also because shooting under the direct light of the bright sun will cause very dark shadows in your photo. Take a look at the family photo taken in front of the waterfall. The photo is very uneven and has a very harsh shadow in between the subjects and the waterfall. That’s no good!

Best Time of Day – Golden Hour

If the family wanted a good photo in front of the waterfall, they would have needed to wait for a different time of the day. Many photographers purposely aim for the “golden hour,” which is the short period of time after the sun rises and before the sun sets. This is the perfect time to take photos because the sun isn’t shining directly on your subjects during that time. The indirect light from the sun creates better opportunities for great photos. In some cases, your photos may even have a “golden” effect with the indirect lighting. The family may not have needed to wait until close to the sunset, but taking that photo later during the afternoon would have certainly yielded a better result.

Shooting during overcast

Remember everything we’ve talked about regarding the direct light of the sun and uneven lighting? Well, you won’t have to worry about any of that for the most part when it comes to taking photos during overcast weather.

Take a look at this photo with the young girl dragging the boat. Notice how even the lighting is throughout the photo? Shooting during overcast will give you very even lighting in your photos because there is no bright sun shining down on your subjects. Next time you see overcast weather, don’t be discouraged from taking photos. Use this opportunity to take great ones!

Overcast days can be great for photography adding drama and diffused lighting

Taking photos indoors

Some of you may be wondering, “how do we use natural light when we are taking photographs indoors?” Good question! Let’s say you are trying to take a photo with a friend after a quick catch-up session at your favorite restaurant. Because of the restaurant’s poor indoor lighting, you can’t seem to take a good photo! Try positioning yourself near a window, one of the best sources for light when you are indoors. Depending on the time of day, you may need to reposition yourself because the same rules about direct light and indirect light apply. You generally want to go for indirect lighting if you are trying to get a nice-looking photo with even lighting.

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