Using Natural Light in photography

Having learnt the art when film was king, I, like many others, spent countless hours in the darkroom making sure that everything was perfect. After over exposing a negative once, I soon learnt that getting the exposure correct in camera was paramount to a perfect print. The trend at the moment though seems to be I ll fix it in Photoshop” So many weekend photographers, and dare I say professional photographers just blaze away hoping that one good shot will book them the next wedding.

Recently I was out for a walk with my wife along the foreshore in my hometown of Geelong, Victoria. It was a lovely Autumn evening and the light was beautiful and soft. Perfect light. As we walked further down, a bridal party appeared. To my amazement, the photographer posed the couple and proceeded to use his onboard flash to light the couple! The harshest possible light available to a photographer is his/her flash.

For those of you who haven t been to Geelong, we are lucky enough to have a beautiful foreshore as well as many locations that can be used for wedding and portrait photography, but the locations are only as good as the light, and using a flash is a sure way of ruining the overall effect of these locations.

Flash is a useful source of light when photographing in strong sunlight outdoors or as a fill in a Church at a wedding, but using the flash as the primary source outdoors when the natural light is perfect is the worse thing that any professional photographer can do. Given that the new range of digital cameras are equipped with low noise and high ISO capability, using natural light has never been easier. For all of you who live or have been to Geelong, you ll be aware that our weather is ever changing.

I recently photographed a wedding. It was the first weekend of Autumn, generally a nice time of the year. Except this particular day we had rain and thunder all day. The easy option would ve been to find an indoor location and use the flash. But wedding photography isn t easy, so instead I took the couple to one of the many pubs in Geelong with large windows and, along with a high ISO setting on my camera, was able to photograph without a worry.

So digital technology has been a wonderful help to our art, but the art of getting the image right the first time and merely use Photoshop to tweek the image is paramount to achieving perfect wedding, or portrait, images. After all, if a client is entrusting you with capturing their wedding day, would you take the risk of fixing it later in Photoshop? I wouldn t.

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