Most of us shoot with natural light, this has certain implications we must be aware of while shooting.
Shooting with natural light means you’re using the sun as your lightsource. This will change the direction, quality and temperature (the color in our pictures) of the light, and alter the mood and the story we can tell through the image. Sumarizing, as the sun moves across the sky through the day the light will go from blue, to gold, to white-ish, then back to gold and blue again. In this cycle, the quality of the light will also change, from soft to hard light, and back to soft again.
Why do photographers love the so-called golden hour and when is it?
The golden hour is a brief period of time (surprisingly much less than an hour) during sunrise and sunset, when the sun is low and the light has a golden colour, creating long, and soft shadows. This soft light is usually more flattering as it doesn’t show flaws due its low contrast. The golden colour also gives a nice, warm touch to the picture.
The height of the sun must be around 20º or 30º above the horizon. It is easy to tell when the golden hour is, as the light becomes orangey and the edges of the shadows start to soften, so no need to calculate the degrees, but it might be a nice reference.
Another good thing about this type of natural light, is that it is incredibly easy to manipulate the direction! As the light gets softer, it is easy to move around your subject (be it a person, object or landscape) and look for different angles to work with, taking advantage of the warm orange tones. If you see my pictures, you’ll notice that golden hour backlight is one of my favourite things ever! The halo of light around the subject is amazing and it gives such a cozy nice feeling to anything you shoot!
In case you are shooting portraits with this light, and you’re also using the sun as backlight, I would recommend you use a reflector to light your subject, as, with the light behind it, the face (or other features) will be in shadow and end up quite dull. Therefore, if you just bounce some light on the front of the subject, you’ll not only get the nice backlight, with the golden touch and halo, but also a lovely portrait with a warm feeling and barely any shadows!
Anyway, whatever you do with this light it will probably be a complete success!
Let me know if you try to shoot with this light in the comments below!