{Farmgirl Photography | Educational Post | Finding the Sweet Light}

February 24, 2015  •  5 Comments

This blog post has everything to do with the most important aspect of photography...LIGHT!

The word photo actually stems from a Greek word that means light, photography is, literally, painting with light.

I am a natural light photographer, I don't usually use any extra lights, just the light that is naturally available in the scene. Most often natural light photography is associated with the outdoors, and rightfully so, since sunlight is the greatest natural light there is.

Sometimes when I shoot I will use a reflector to bounce sunlight back in a subjects face when I have them backlit (the sun is behind them). This fills in shadows providing a more even exposure, and "lights up" their faces making catch lights in their eyes. A reflector could be as simple as a white wall or another light surface, generally though it would be referring to a disc with white, black, silver or gold surfaces. You can also use a reflector on a cloudy day to multiply light and add more "punch" to your photos.

Here are some examples of backlit photos with a reflector used:

Do you see how the reflector fills in shadows and makes the eyes "pop?"  With a $20 price tag it is a great investment! There are times when using a reflector is not practical (like family and engagement sessions)...and unless you are extremely flexible you will likely need an assistant to hold the reflector. You will need to be careful not to blind your subject as reflectors can throw a lot of light back in the face. One technique that can be used is asking the subject to close their eyes and open them wide on the count of three.


Cloudy or overcast lighting is the easiest light to shoot in because it acts like a giant "soft box" there are no great contrasts in light intensity and shadows are soft and flattering. Here are some examples of photo taken in overcast conditions:


I made a whole new lighting category of my own... "barn light"! (Barn light could probably be classified as open shade) Basically, it is indirect light....light that is coming from a large open area with a shade break above that stops direct sunlight. I refer to our barn as my"studio." It is one of my favorite places to do portraits! Here are some examples of barn light and open shade:


One of the lighting styles I use most rarely is directional lighting, which is strong with a lot of contrast:

In this photo I was loosing light, I wanted to keep some of the pretty sunset in the photo, yet not make Sam a silhouette...the solution? Use the truck headlights...they even had a warm tone that looks like a sunset glow...red neck lighting at it's best!


I use front light, having the subject look into the sun, sparingly. It tends to make them squint and gives off harsh shadows. An exception would be an overcast day when the light is subdued or sunset light that gives off a beautiful soft, warm glow.


Occasionally I will use flash in a photo when I am looking for a specific effect. I generally avoid it though, it tends to slow down my creative process and doesn't fit my style as well. I almost exclusively use a flash to backlight and use natural light as the "fill light."


I've been saving the best (in my opinion) for last...backlight! This is probably the most tricky and gorgeous lighting. It can vary from full blown golden sun flare to subtle highlights. It's tricky because obtaining great focus and exposure becomes difficult...that's why it's essential to shoot in manual and expose for the shadows in order to get a great backlit image. A backlit image in which the subject is intentionally underexposed and allowed to fall dark against a bright background is a silhouette.



Farmgirl Photography
That's great Casey! Thanks for the suggestion :)
Casey Treloar(non-registered)
Amazing tips!! Definitely learnt a bit here and have just bought myself some reflectors! I thought of a future blog topic... in relation to focus (manual vs. auto and single point focus vs. multiple points). Keep up the incredible work!
Farmgirl Photography
Thank you both! If you have future blog topic suggestions I'd love to hear them. :)
Sophie Callahan(non-registered)
Great blog. Love looking at all of your work throughout this! <3 And there are some great ideas in here. Thank you for sharing. x
Thank you so much for the training session!
No comments posted.

January (2) February March April May June (1) July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December