But, seriously. I know you’ve heard it a million times - photography is the study of light; light is the most important thing in a photograph - and if you haven’t heard it yet, well, you have now.
The quality of the lighting is very often the difference between a good and a great photograph, a great photograph and an amazing photograph.
Don’t believe me? Check out these:
Which photo do you like better? I’m going to guess the second one— it’s simply more interesting.
Note that there’s nothing technically wrong with the first photo; it’s sharp and properly exposed. However, visually, it falls flat, especially in comparison to the second photo.
Notice how the light accentuates the toad in the second photo, highlighting it and separating it out from the darker background. Now, compare it back to the first photo: both the subject and the background suffer from the same strong overhead light. The subject fails to stand out.
So: when’s the best time for outdoor photography?
When the light is good, of course! And, I’m sure you’ve heard this as well, but those times are early morning (sunrise) and evening (sunset). Generally, you want to stay away from photographing around noon, when the sun is the highest in the sky. It produces very harsh, “flattening” light that isn’t very flattering.
Not convinced? Here’s another example:
Notice how, while the first photograph is pleasing, the second one is much more striking because of the lighting.
The moral of the story is: It’s worth it to get up that extra hour or two earlier to catch the morning light. Your photography won’t improve until you do!
I took this photo walking back to my apartment from the parking lot. It always pays to have your camera handy, especially for nature photography. You never know what (or who) might show up!
2. Having an umbrella isn’t bad, either.
Don’t be afraid to shoot in the rain. This photo was actually taken in a drizzle. It was a little tricky to juggle holding the umbrella in one hand and the camera in another, but, don’t fear- there is a better way to shoot in the rain.
What You Need to Shoot in the Rain:
-Plastic bag (eg, the kind you get your groceries in)
-A rubber band (optional, though useful)
All you need to do is cut a hole in the bag for your lens to fit through. I like to cut the hole in the bottom of the bag and then wrap the handles up and tie them off behind the body. The rubber band (or a hair tie, in a pinch) goes around the lens once it has been bagged to keep the bag in place. This setup works nicely for shooting in the snow as well!