Outdoor Photography Lighting Styles

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If you want to improve your outdoor photography lighting, there are certain factors you need to be aware of. In this free video, world renowned outdoor photographer Ian Plant shows you three basic lighting styles and how they can work for you. The first is front lighting, which occurs when the sun is behind you and the subject in front of you. Wildlife photographers favor this style for enhancing colors and details. The second outdoor photography lighting style is side lighting, which is ideal for landscape photographers because it adds texture, contrast, and depth. The third style is backlighting, the sun positioned behind your subject. Ian prefers this creative outdoor photography lighting style because it adds translucence and rim lighting to your subjects whether you photograph animals, trees, flowers, or mountains.

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4 Responses to “Outdoor Photography Lighting Styles”
  1. Mary Dieringer

    It is sometimes hard to take photographs where the subjects are backlit (like flowers). How do you keep from getting glare on the lens? Do you recommend using a diffuser?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Greetings Mary,

      Thanks for your questions!

      Yes exposure for backlight subjects is a little tricky. The good news is the solutions are relatively simple. The simplest and best bet is what is called exposure bracketing. This is simply putting your camera into manual mode, getting the exposure from the built in light meter, and then shooting files that are both over and under exposed from the reading, thereby almost insuring you get one you like in that range.

      Alternately if you like to keep the camera in AUTO learn how your specific camera lets you vary the exposure while in that mode and make the bracket in that mode.

      Your camera may also offer a built in HDR function. That is a process that takes a group of exposures and automatically merges them to create a file that blends the over and under exposed files into a composite file which shows the best of both.(Most camera phones do this). Additionally if you use an image editing program of any kind it might have an HDR feature. In that case you make a range of exposed images, select them for processing and the edit program (Lightroom, Photoshop) blends the files.

      Note: for HDR to work best the files all have to be register so they can be accurately blended so it is recommend to use a tripod if possible. In the cases of flowers where there could be movement from breezes this is sometimes difficult.

      Your question about using a diffuser. The answer is Yes and No. Photography at its best is about creativity, and by its nature, creatively and rules do not mix. If you think using a diffuser is something you want to try or will be useful, I say Yes use a diffuser and also shoot files without the diffuser. You may like one more than the other or may like them both for different reasons. There is no right and wrong in photography, there is only what you like.

      Happy Shooting!

      -Steve
      Outdoor Photography Guide

      Reply

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