Keep scrolling to see the gear and settings used for this shot.

What's the best lighting method in natural light?

This is more of a loaded question than you think. Often times you'll hear that it is best to keep the sun behind the model when shooting in natural lighting. Actually, it's also a better idea to do this if you are shooting with a strobe outside (See this post for reference). On the contrary, shooting in direct sunlight can definitely yield some promising results. You just have to know what you're doing. I will admit that shooting in direct sunlight is also a bit limiting.

Anyway, my girlfriend and I took our daughter to a sunflower field and while we were there we got inspired to do a little photo session. With all of that being said, the majority of the photos that we liked from that session happened to be ones where she was backlit by the sun, meaning she was facing away from the sun so that there are no harsh shadows on her face. Being that I typically shoot with a strobe outside I immediately thought it would be a good idea to shoot with her backlit. I was right, of course. However, the top photo is our absolute favorite one from the session and it was done in direct sunlight. I'll give you a few pointers below, but point of this post is to always try different methods, even after you've found one that you like. You never know what images you're missing out on creating when you limit yourself to one option.

What you'll need:


How to use it:

The closer you are to noon the harder it's going to be to shoot in sunlight regardless of where you place the sun. That doesn't mean that you can get some great results, though. There will be times in your photographic career that you have no choice but to shoot outside at noon with no lighting equipment so this post might come in more handy than you think!

Tip 1 is to move around the subject. Nine times out of ten, you're going to settle on backlighting because your models face will be evenly illuminated. Often times you will get a blown out sky when you expose for your model, though, so beware of this. Anyway, when shot with purpose, shadows can be very cool. Shadows do provide dimension to your subject, after all. So after you've posed your model, keep them in one place and compose your shot. Then start to walk around your model looking for interesting compositions and looking for interesting shapes with the shadows on their face or the shadow that their body is casting.

Tip 2 is to point the models face toward the sun. PLEASE DO NOT STARE DIRECTLY INTO THE SUN. That is obviously bad for your models vision. I always advise them to keep their eyes closed and point their nose or their chin at the sun as seen in the above photograph. This too eliminates all of the shadows on the model's face and provide a soft even exposure.

Tip 3 is to make sure you have on your lens hood! You can use lens flares as a creative element, of course. However often times shooting directly into the sun does lower the contrast of your shot, having a lens hood on your lens can help keep your contrast at a good place.


Camera settings:

Camera: Canon EOS R

SS: 1/640

Aperture: f/4

ISO: 100

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