It’s no secret that light is the photographer’s greatest tool. From the sun, to flood lights, to flash lights to projectors, mastering light is the first step on the road to any phenomenal picture. 
Every photographer has their preferences, but it’s never a bad idea to learn the proper techniques for every type of lighting scenario.

Taking Advantage of the Sun

The best key you have to utilizing one of photography’s greatest resources, the sun, is to make sure you have a good idea of when blue and golden hour are at least a week before your shoot, and try to get there a bit early. Early’s never a bad idea. There are a variety of sun tracking apps available and of course, the ol’ Google is a good friend of lighting conditions. 
Every once in a while the heavens will part and send a beam of perfect light your way, and this is of course the goal, but sometimes you gotta get weird with it. If in harsh daylight, try getting creative with your filters. Try leaves, curtains, flowers, people’s heads, clothing. There’s a million and one ways to work around midday lighting to create your perfect shot.

Also keep in mind that even when the light feels like it’s not your friend, there’s always a way. Keep an eye on that sunlight and where it hits. Overcast skies can tend to make your subject’s shadows look a bit murky, while overcast light can set a glow over the highlights. Try to keep an eye on your hand and see how the light falls over your fingers. Focus on the shadows between your fingers and if there’s any color reflected in your hand’s highlights. 
It may take a while to grasp the concept, but you’ll master it. Just you wait.

Pay Attention to the Big Picture

It’s easy to focus on the main subject and put the rest of the scenery out of your mind. This is a big no no. 
Take into account the light coming from behind, in front of, and to the sides of the subject. Even if you have a beautiful image of the subject, the back or foreground being blown out can ruin your image. This is where our good friend, the lens hood, can come in handy.
We also always want the subjects to maintain the viewer’s attention. There are age old artist’s tools of doing this like using contrast, focal depth, color theory, and leading lines. 
And remember, it’s always better to underexpose than overexpose. That’s a big one.

Don’t Be Afraid of Flash 

I get it, you’ve always used natural light. It’s always been there for you through thick and thin, and abandoning it would be cruel.
Trust me, it’ll understand. As someone that too had a hard time getting over that feeling, I can promise you that while it is a whole other beast, it is a beast worth saddling. 
While some photographers go all out with their artificial lighting equipment, it does not take a monstrous setup to get started with flash photography. If you’re on the fence about making the switch, I recommend buying a little cheapie flash and experimenting for a while. Even if you’re not feeling it, it’s always fun to play with a new toy. If you do decide it’s exactly what your craft’s been waiting for, some tips would be to:

1.) Diffuse Diffuse Diffuse

The key to good flash photography is that it doesn’t look like flash photography. We don’t want one deer-in-the-headlights model in a sea of black background. Soft and subtle is the key here.

2.) Bouncy Bouncy Fun Fun Fun

Light is pretty cool in the way it can bounce off other surfaces to land somewhere else. It’s like flubber. 
Thought unlike flubber, it does reflect the color of the surface it’s bounced off of. Be sure to keep that in mind when bouncing your flash.

3.) Learn Manual

Just like learning the manual functions on your camera, utilizing the manual functions on your flash can upgrade your images ten fold. Relying on the automatic flash settings will leave you with much less control. It can be kind of daunting, but I promise you it’s worth every youtube video and article. Don’t be afraid of trial and error, you got this. 

Shooting in Low Light

Low light can be one of the worst situations when it comes to getting our dream shot. Sometimes we get to that location RIGHT as the sun is going down, then what?
Well one of our best options is to make dang sure you bring that tripod with you. Ideally, a tripod will save you from that high ISO grain or low shutter speed blur. However, in the case of moving subjects, a wide aperture can compensate for having to use faster shutter speeds. If available, shooting at f/1.4 should give you a bit more elbow room when shooting at dusk. 
And of course, the most important rule of all, ALWAYS shoot in RAW. 
This will give you a much wider scope in regards to editing your images.

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