Lighting 101 | Natural Light vs. Artificial Light

May 3, 2019

Lighting is one of the most important elements of product photography. It is a major factor in the tone, mood, and appearance of quality in an image. Photography is literally the recording of light, and so as a photographer, it’s our job to finesse the light to where we want it. There are many ways to do this, but in this blog post, I’ll just start with the basics: natural vs. artificial light.

What is Natural light?

Natural light is the light that comes from the sun. The quality of this light varies depending on the weather and time of day. The hour after sunrise and hour before sunset are typically golden, soft, and warm.

During the middle of the day, you can get bright, crisp images with harsh lighting – especially earlier or later in the day, where the sun isn’t directly above you. Natural light is also often used indoors next to a window. You can place your subject next to a window, and use a reflector or white board to reflect light back into the subject.

Although natural light is beautiful, it can be difficult to control and work with. This is because you are dependent on the time of day and the weather.

What is Artificial Light?

Artificial light is light that comes from another light source – typically a speed-lite, or if you are a product photographer, a strobe. Artificial light is great to work with because you can control the light completely. You can change the angle, the softness or hardness, and even the temperature. I love working with artificial light because you can replicate natural light if you want to, but you also have the freedom of creating many different looks, without the limitations of time of day and weather.

Both of these lighting types play a huge role in product photography! In the future, I’ll share more specific lighting techniques using these kinds of light. In the meantime, comment below what you would like to learn more about – or contact me here!