Using Light to Take Your Photos to The Next Level


Lighting is one of the most important aspects of photography. To get clear and crisp photos, you need good lighting. On the other hand, bad lighting has a drastic way of ruining even the best moments. Lucky for you, we’ve made a guide to ensure you snap the best photo possible:

Experiment With Hard and Soft Lights

On set with Daniel Norton from EventBrite. Hard light creates a more dramatic feel while soft light looks brighter and more natural.

Hard Lights commonly originate from a single source, thus creating strong, well-defined shadows. It creates images with sharp contrast and highlights, resulting into a dramatic effect.

Soft Lights use reflectors or diffusers to create less or no shadows. It portrays the colors and shapes of the subject better. Thus, it is considered the safer choice, especially for beginners.

Consider Your Light Source

Source: Detoxininsta

Understanding your light environment will give you an advantage when taking photos. Natural light refers to the light from the sun, while artificial light refers to all other kinds of light sources including flash, electric lights, fluorescent lights, and so on.

As the name suggests, natural light yields more natural-looking photos, but it comes with some complications:

  1. The uncontrollable weather makes photographing in natural light tricky for beginners.
  2. A sunny day yields harder lights with more defined shadows. A cloudy weather is most preferred as it gives off soft lighting.
  3. Other weather phenomena such as storm or fog alters light, which can make photos either unusable or exceptional.

For landscapes and portraits, sunrise and sunset are ideal times for photography as they allow more shot variations. The golden hour, or the time after sunrise or before sunset, gives off a redder and softer light. It is a favorite among many photographers.

In the case of artificial lights, the photographer has full control of the light setting. However, the photographer must note how different sources of light create different effects.

For example, tungsten lights renders a reddish hue because it is hotter, while halogen bulbs are cooler and renders a bluish hue. When using artificial lights, the photographer will have direct control over all elements including the intensity, hardness, distance, and angle.

Take Control of The Camera

Melissa Griffin shows us how to take control using the manual mode.

The last part requires the photographer to have necessary know-how of his/her tool: the camera. After setting up the right lighting environment, the photographer must know how to capture this light to create the desired  image.


ISO refers to how sensitive the camera is to light. Lower ISO settings create less noise but require more light, hence a longer exposure time. For darker conditions, you can use a higher ISO, which amplifies light but creates more noise.


Aperture refers to the opening of the lens. A smaller aperture allows less light in, while a larger aperture allows more light to reach the sensor. Aperture is measured in f/stops, with f/1.0 signifying the largest aperture opening and f/22 the smallest.

Shutter Speed

When taking pictures, the shutter in front of the sensor opens to allow light in. The longer this shutter is open, the more light will enter. High shutter speeds are required to reduce the amount of movement while the shutter is open. This is optimal when shooting moving subjects.

Automatic Mode

In automatic mode, the camera chooses the aperture/shutter combination it perceives to be most suitable. This produces decent results, but as it is only an approximation, it is rarely at par with pictures taken manually by a learned photographer.

Manual Mode

In full manual mode, the photographer will have full control of the shutter and aperture settings. This allows the photographer to precisely capture each image as desired.

To Sum It Up

Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, good lighting will be your best companion when taking photographs. Knowing how to manipulate light can set the mood, tone, and give life to your photos. Play around with your light settings and see how easily a change in light can completely alter your photo.