From Dusk to Dawn | Tips for Outdoor Lighting Situations

Golden Hour Portrait

The best time of day to take outdoor portrait photos using natural light is in the few hours after sunrise and before sunset. This is due in part to the angle of the sun as it changes position throughout the day. Sunlight strikes your subject from a low angle at the beginning or end of the day, and a high angle during midday. You should also pay attention to whether the sun is hitting your subject from the front, side or back. Here are a few of the best combinations we have found:

Low Angle Light – The Cream of the Crop

Light that shines from a low angle is less intense and tends to be warmer which can produce pleasing colors and skin tones. Low angle lighting works best from the side as this is the ideal scenario for creating interesting shadows that define objects and scenery. Try positioning your subject so the light is coming in from the side and a little to the front. For a breathtaking beauty shot, ask your subject to turn their face toward the light while turning their shoulders or body slightly away.

Overcast Lighting

The Sun Doesn’t Always Shine

Even if it’s a cloudy, overcast day, you can still create beautiful pictures - those clouds can actually act as a giant filter for otherwise harsher light. This type of light is extremely soft and can enable smooth transitions between shadows. Filtered light is also very flattering to the skin and can help you capture gorgeous portraits.

Practice Makes Perfect

As with any new skill, the more you practice the more you will be able to predict how to make the lighting work best for you and what you want to accomplish. Not only will this allow you more freedom in terms of creativity, but you will also find new and interesting ways to express yourself.