Finding the Light – More Tips for Natural Lighting

by Marcel

I was reflecting back on my last post here at 5 Minutes and thought to myself, “In order to harness the light one must find the light” which is what my last post featured. I felt quite poetic, like Ghandi perhaps, but for about a half a second and because I realized this post should have preceded my last. In order to fully utlize the light, you need to know how to find it.



I moved about 10 feet. Well, Laura did. These shots are straight out of Laura’s camera. All she did was move 10 feet and turn a different direction.  Light reflects off all sorts of surfaces. In this case, it was the metal roof of the pavillon, often it’s sidewalks. Audrey Woulard is famous for working with natural alighting so she’s an expert at finding the light. You can do this too. Put out your hand and see where the light is the most even and warm. People may think you’re crazy, they may think you know what you’re doing. It doesn’t matter what people think, find the light and it will make a world of difference in your pictures.

One of the most important things you can learn to do when taking your pictures is learning to find the light. I was at a family shindig with one of my fabulous cousins doing the camera talk thing. As the sun was setting the light changed positions and in a matter of minutes where there was beautiful light, there was none to be found. So I said to Laura, let me show you a cool trick. I’m going to hold up my hand to find good light. I learned from Rodger Newbold, from the  Salt Lake Arts Center.



In one direction the light was bluish because of the shadows and in another area it was golden. Look at the two examples. Crazy! So hold your hand up to the light and and see where the light falls. If there are lots of shadows on your hand, move it (and yourself) around until you can find good even lighting. E-A-S-Y. Why spend time editing if you don’t have to? Simple tricks like this can make your pictures look good in the camera and will save you work in the end.

Good luck!   


Email Author    |    Website About Marcel

I'm a photographer who specializes in modern, unique, signature portraiture. I shoot commercial and personal sessions working along the Wasatch Front and Park City Area. I am also available for travel. If you'd like to learn more about how to use your camera and Photoshop tips and tutorials on my blog at I will also have workshop dates coming soon.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 alicia June 4, 2010 at 7:03 pm

Love this idea. Thanks for the tips. And feel free to pass any others along too.


2 Marcel July 8, 2010 at 3:54 am

Thank you Alicia:) If you have any specific questions, feel free to send them my way,



3 Ann Marie June 5, 2010 at 2:14 am

This is wonderful practical advice! Thank you! :)

Tell me — are you able to see the difference by viewing the pictures in your camera?
Were you using different light balance settings as well?

Sometimes I have a hard time decided which setting to use – cloudy vs sunny vs shade when it is a partly cloudy day :)


4 Marccel July 8, 2010 at 3:52 am

Yes, I could see the difference in the LCD screen, The White balance was set for the same for each shot. The light reflected off the metal roof and sidewalk and warmed up the picture immediately. When it’s partly cloudy, I recommend that setting, Daylight is 5500 K, Cloudy is 6500 K, and Shade is 7500 K. The higher the temp the cooler it is. A lot of times I’ll use AWB, unless it’s shade because then everyone looks so blue!


5 Karen, Georgia Angel June 5, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Thanks for sharing this tip. I’ll have to remember this because I’m forever battling the “dark clouds” in my photos.


6 Marcel July 8, 2010 at 4:02 am

Try changing your white balance. Let me know how it goes!


7 Susan June 5, 2010 at 9:52 pm

Fabulous tip! Thank you so much for sharing that here at 5 Minutes for Mom.


8 Marcel July 8, 2010 at 4:04 am

Thank you Susan. So happy to be able to write here. Love the shot of WW of Sophie this week, what a beauty!


9 Mrs. Marine June 5, 2010 at 10:33 pm

Great trick!! I have to remember that. I hate when pictures turn out dark or the color just isnt right. Now, if you can just tell me how to keep my son still long enough to take his picture in that good light….


10 Marcel July 8, 2010 at 4:00 am

How old is your son? Let me know, and I can pass along some tips for his age:)


11 Janet June 5, 2010 at 10:37 pm

Great tips. Thanks.


12 Stephanie June 7, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Laura is such a beautiful “model” (and her shirt is fabulously stylish). :)


13 Marcel July 8, 2010 at 4:07 am

Actually, my couzie Laura took the shot and this is my other couzie Lisa who truly one of the sweetest kindest people you will ever meet:) I’m so blessed to have such a great family!


14 christy July 4, 2010 at 11:04 am

This is a great post! I am always stumped or think about this way after the fact when taking pictures. I’m a new follower ;)


15 Marcel July 8, 2010 at 4:10 am

Christy, you know I find that the more I learn the less i know. There’s always something to learn and the great thing is we can do it together!


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