Finding The Proper Lighting: Onsite Lighting Vs. Natural Light

Lighting is a huge part of any good photography shoot and not matter what the caliber of equipment and the ability of a professional photographer, if there’s bad lighting he or she is going to be really hard pressed to come out with even a half way decent picture. The good news is that this is a topic that photographers tackle at every level of education, as well as every level of training. The smallest changes in light, light filters, and every type of setup that involves the lighting for a picture can result in wildly different results. This is why decisions on onsite lighting vs. natural light are such a big deal among photographers not just as a general debate or exercise, but also during individual photo shoots.

Why Go With Onsite Lighting?

Onsite lighting gives you tons of control. Flash and certain lights can shift the overall look outside while interior lighting and a shooting stage can create the perfect environment to get a photo shoot done effectively and make sure every picture comes out.

While this control can be great for staged photos, it does require a lot of expensive equipment and the proper setup, which can be limiting and time consuming in some circumstances.

Why Go With Natural Lighting?

There are many benefits to going with natural lighting, but the biggest benefit is almost certainly the fact that it is abundant, free, and everywhere. You don’t need special lighting equipment, and sometimes the sunlight creates amazing light through the clouds or at dawn and dusk that can’t be easily replicated. Sometimes natural light is just best and there’s no arguing with that.

Natural light can even be easily manipulated in some situations with the right tools like inexpensive reflectors or even diffusing devices. That being said, there are some definite cons to using natural light, as well. One is schedule and timing. Sometimes the natural light just isn’t that great. It could be too bright, too cloudy, and at night there isn’t any. There’s also the fact that depending on the colors you’re shooting the time of day could be good or bad for the colors you’re focusing on most.

The light varies immensely, giving more opportunity but also plenty of challenges.

Skilled Eyes Know Best

At the end of the day professional photographers learn their craft from a variety of good sources working together. From apprenticing for other professionals to taking college courses (or even a full major) to the ultimate teacher of all: real life experience, there are many ways for skilled individuals to hone their photography skills over months and years and if they are skilled in any way they are going to learn when onsite lighting will give the best results and when going with natural light gets the results that you’re looking for.

Small changes in light can make an enormous difference, so trust your professional photographer to help capture the look and style that you’re really looking for.

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