Natural light, natural reflectors, natural inspiration.

Do you use natural light?

I must say, I’m a natural light photographer, even in dark situations I rather using a wide aperture (and in any kind of situation, as well) than using a flash or an artificial  light. I think that is why I don’t like studio photography.

But when you use natural light you need to control your light, even natural. You are the creator of something that simply IS. What do I mean with that? Well… light, either natural or artificial, is the main component of photography and it creates the image. With artificial light you can control your photograph at 100% and even create it from nothing. Natural light is much more complicated, you must be aware of your sources, where that light comes from, the background and, something very VERY important is the kind of reflectors that you can use around you.

What is a reflector? A reflector is a surface (a wall, the ground, a table…) that reflects light to enhance it on the subject of your photograph. The type of surface and colour is going to determine the quality of that light.

This is an example of really bad reflectors: red and green? nice colours but look at his skin tone… look at the red unnatural borders and the too pale skin!

 In this photograph, for instance, the redish colour of the soil is going to determine the skin tone, pretty different to another photograph taken with the same light and in which the emergent light comes from her t-shirt.

Tones are also very different depending on where you are. The light in each place (city, for instance) varies the mood of the photograph.

(Barcelona, warm tonality influenced by the redish building at the back)

(Bristol enjoys a neutral, cooler and less bright light that I like better)

When photographing someone I always ask to wear neutral and soft colors, that way, the model doesn’t loose his/her skin tone (we don’t want to look like zombies, do we?) and bring the photograph a natural and healthy look. But that is something to keep very in mind when you are photographing other people and when you want the photograph to keep natural (and also when you don’t want to spend too many hours on photoshop or lightroom) Some contexts and moment, we can’t miss or change.

One day, I was editing a wedding and I realised how important it is the place you choose to celebrate it. We were surrounded by huge trees and a long field of grass, a beautiful place, isn’t it? But it can’t help influencing the colours and tones in the photographs.

Of course there’s no problem with the place a couple chooses, but it specially made me think about my own wedding. Photography is very important for me so I’d want my favourite wedding photographer and the place would be with neutral tones and good natural reflectors.


About Emma Espejo

Graduated from English Philology in the University of Barcelona, I wanted to study a phd on Literature but ended dedicating my life to Photography. Full time teacher of English, and full time photographer (a passion can't be neglected). Working on my photography and making other people happy with my photographs makes me happy, as well as a good conversation, reading a good book and watching a good tv series. I'm a reader, dreamer, lover, photographer, writer, thinker... a little bit of everything.
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6 Responses to Natural light, natural reflectors, natural inspiration.

  1. Alexandra says:

    Very nice observations, very useful tips.

    I still think that it’s good to use all types of reflections and light. Yes, it probably won’t be natural but it will be fun and then, who knows, maybe something really beautiful and new will be born when something is not natural and classic.

  2. Maybe you could experiment with different hand held reflectors, you can get them in various textures and colours to couter other colours that giving a bad light?

    • Emma Espejo says:

      Yes! no problem about that, I was just talking about light in 100% natural context, hence what to change if needed. But that is something else. It’s not that I was finding a problem but analyzing natural light situations we can find. 🙂

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