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The Window Light: Use natural light to shoot appealing portraits

Jan Stimel (photocyan)

Keywords: portraiture, lighting, shooting_conditions, studio, guides, tips_and_tricks


Harness the photo power of  window light: use natural light to shoot appealing portraits


One of the most beneficial and powerful lighting accessories available is the window.  Everyone owns at least one. In this article I would like to show you certain ways of using a natural source such as the window light to give your images a pleasant moody look.

Many photographers use costly lighting equipment, special umbrella-shaped gear with expensive energy consuming light bulbs.  I am not saying all of these gadgets are superfluous, but the same or even a better effect can be achieved with a more simple method by even beginners. Daylight in its purest form contains all colors of the rainbow spectrum, distributed more or less equally (to be more precise it depends on the time, weather, season and location).  Although the light changes through the day, it is important  that it is the light in a location where you live, where you naturally take the pictures and therefore it is your light. This type of lighting is ideal when shooting adults, children and pets.  The image's appearance becomes more contemplative than a studio look, mostly because of the special catchlight in the eyes. It seems almost like one's soul is captured in that particular moment. Even known objects get a misty and nostalgic look, which makes it also ideal for shooting still life photographs.

To make a full use of this light condition, you may need a light reflector and maybe a mirror in some special cases, but generally you will get along with a window and reflected light from a door or a wall. When you spend some time learning the light's characteristics, you will quickly learn how to master its use.  



Young woman\'s face lit by window light

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Jan Stimel (photocyan) on February 27, 2014

Thank you, Daniel :)

daniel wade (dmaconthe1) on February 25, 2014

Best 'common sense' approach to the topic I've seen in sometime. Thank you, Jan.

Jan Stimel (photocyan) on February 21, 2014

Hi Alan, thank you for you comment. Light is a magical thing and it is essential for us photographers.

Alan Dooley (ajdooley) on February 20, 2014

Awarded for his frequent encouraging comments, sharing his knowledge in the Nikonians spirit. Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2017 Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the 2017-2018 fundraising campaign Awarded for his in-depth knowledge and high level of skill in several areas, especially photojo Ribbon awarded for his repeated generous contributions to the 2019 Fundraising campaign

Interesting subject here. This lighting worked for centuries for painters and was also used by early photographers. It is worth considering for sure. Thanks, Jan.