Project MCP: Highlights for Challenge #1, Natural Light Tips

Free Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets by MCP™

Project MCP: Highlights for Challenge #1, Natural Light Tips

Project MCP is well underway! We challenged you and you rose to the occasion. The Project MCP Flickr group has been flooded with beautiful photos taken from high vantage points, using natural light, illustrating transition and depicting mysterious objects.

Here are a few of the Project MCP Team’s favorite photos from the Week 1 Challenge – Take a picture from a high vantage point, from above your subject:

 Photo shared by: Newbiegirl77

Photo Shared by minkylina

Photo Shared by Photoholic

Photo Shared by aasnapshot

Week Two’s challenge is to capture a photo using natural light.

Natural light photography is fast becoming one of the most popular photographic styles. Simply put, shooting with natural light refers to using available light sources to create pictures; typically, the sun. The quality and quantity of natural light is dependent upon your location, time of day and the weather. Lighting from the sun can create dramatic effects in your photos, depending on intensity, color and direction.

Direct sunlight, or “hard light”, can be found on sunny days. This light is harsh and intensifies the contrast between light and dark, causing shadows. Hard light is best captured in the morning, before sunrise, or at the end of the day, before sunset. Hard light helps to bring out colors and taking photos of architecture.

Moving your subject into the shade (or shooting on a cloudy day) offers soft lighting options. Shadows will have soft edges and contrast will be less harsh.

 Backlighting is created when the light source comes from behind the subject. Backlight, like hard light, has lots of contrast.  Also like hard light, it’s best for photos taken at the start or the end of the day.

Light may appear blue (“cool light”) or orange/yellow (“warm light”). The color of objects the light reflects off of will influence the color of light.  Light captured at sunrise or sunset can produce a soft, multicolored lighting effect that produces a calm, peaceful mood. If you are not going for an artistic look, correct lighting compensation can be achieved by using the white balance setting on your camera that is appropriate for the type of light you are working in.

The direction of the light also impacts the overall image. Looking towards direct or “hard” light will make your subject squint and cause shadows around the eyes. Positioning your subject with the sun behind them provides backlighting which will cast strong highlights.  A reflector or a fill flash may be needed to light up the face and fill in shadows. Another good option is to place your subject with the sun to the side and slightly behind them.

Here are some tips to shooting using natural light:

  • Shoot during the “golden” hour; just before sunrise or before sunset.
  • Look for interesting shadows and consider your creative perspective in terms of light intensity,
  • Pay attention to the direction of the light source,
  • Use a reflector to light up shadowy spots. This may be a car shade or piece of white foam core,

In addition, here are a few past articles from the MCP Blog about shooting with natural light:

Tips on Using Natural Window Light Creatively

Shooting in Full Sun Anytime of Day

The Best 4 Types of Natural Light for Your Photography

We cannot wait to see more responses to the challenges. Remember, please tag your photos in the Flickr pool with the month and challenge number.


We want to thank our corporate sponsors for Project MCP:


Free Photoshop Actions and Lightroom Presets by MCP™
Previous post
Editing Backlit Images With Photoshop Actions
Next post
Because Camera Equipment Really Does Matter


  1. Jennifer Novotny
    March 12, 2012 at 8:18 am —

    Thanks for the great tips!

  2. Carol E Brooker
    March 11, 2012 at 6:45 pm —

    thank your for the tips.

  3. March 11, 2012 at 12:39 am —

    looking good!

  4. Alice C.
    March 10, 2012 at 4:25 pm —

    Awesome tips, thanks!

  5. oread
    March 10, 2012 at 2:54 pm —


Leave a reply




Project MCP: Highlights for Challenge #1, Natural Light Tips