Photography has been become a fun pastime of many and even a profession for others. With the increasing availability of high quality digital cameras for previously unheard-of prices, mastering the techniques of good photography is more a likelihood now than ever before. Besides all of the manual adjustments that can be made to your camera’s shooting settings, there are also external factors to consider as well. Perhaps one of the most important external factors to consider for good photography is that of lighting. Although not all natural lighting from the sun can obviously be controlled during a photography session, there are several techniques that you can remember while dealing with outside light that can make your pictures look good.
1) Try not to take pictures when the sun is directly behind your subjects. This can make your camera’s settings automatically focus more on the light coming in from the sun than on your subjects themselves, thus causing them to appear very dark and in the shadows. Instead, try to take your pictures with the sun behind your own back or even slightly to the side of you. This will provide adequate lighting for your photo-shoot without negatively impacting the appearance of your subjects themselves.
2) Avoid taking pictures when the sun in high in the sky, if you are trying to take more artistic shots. (If you are simply shooting pictures of you and your friends for fun memories and minimal artistic qualities, ignore this tip.) The time between 2:00 and 4:00 pm is generally not the best time to take any good artistic pictures, as the sunlight can basically be considered “bland” and “boring” at best. Of course, with the age of digital editing, you can now shoot at this time and alter the lighting yourself at a later time, but for the purpose of naturally good-looking photos, do not shoot during this time of the day.
3) Take advantage of the naturally “good” lighting times of the day. These obviously include both sunrise, dusk, and sunset, but they should also include the period of time right before it is really sunset or dusk. During dusk I have found that using the “sunrise” setting on your camera is generally preferable to using the “sunset” setting because the “sunrise” setting will generally focus and bring out more of the purples, pinks, and blues of the lighting, which are more natural at this time of the day than the reds and oranges that the “sunset” setting will draw out. For the time of day right before sunset when the lighting is very “warmly colored,” you may wish to use “sunset” setting. During this time of the day, I would highly suggest playing around with photos that emphasize the length of shadows, such as sunlight shining through a line of trees. Such pictures generally turn out very interesting looking and are very aesthetically pleasing.