Beginner’s Guide to Natural Light in Landscape Photography

Saguaro Cactus by Anne McKinnell - Beginner’s Guide to Natural Light in Landscape Photography

Once the sun has set, the light becomes a cool blue and the landscape is soft with no shadows.

The Direction of Light

Front light is when the light comes from behind you and hits the front of your subject directly. Front light can be unforgiving, washing out colors and minimizing textures. So if you are going to use it, it’s best to do so when the sun is low in the sky when it is warmer and softer.

Angel Peak New Mexico by Anne McKinnell - Beginner’s Guide to Natural Light in Landscape Photography

Front light hits the mountain, but it is a soft light since it is also at golden hour.

Backlight is when the sun is directly in front of you and behind your subject, lighting it from behind. I love backlight because the deep contrast between the highlights and shadows is so dramatic.

Backlighting is also perfect for making silhouettes when you have subjects with great shapes.

Organ Pipe Cactus by Anne McKinnell - Beginner’s Guide to Natural Light in Landscape Photography

The cactus is lit from behind creating an interesting silhouette during sunset.

Sidelight is when the sun is beside you, lighting your subject from the side. This kind of light is excellent for emphasizing shape and texture.

Image: The sidelight on this saguaro cactus emphasizes it’s shape and texture.

The sidelight on this saguaro cactus emphasizes it’s shape and texture.

Prev2 of 3Next

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *