24 May Natural light vs artificial which is better?
This is a really hot debate that there are already thousands of topics and arguments online about.
So which one is really better and why?
To answer the question you need to first decide on what your objective is and then decide which kind if light source can deliver what you need.
Natural light would be a great choice if it could meet all your needs since A it’s free, B you don’t need to set it up or carry it around with you.
On the flip side of that it changes throughout the day since it moves and it is not as easy to shape and modify as a studio light and it’s not always the place you need it to be.
Also it is just one light source, what if you need multiple lights.
Sure you can use reflectors to emulate a second or third light source but the practicality of doing this is questionable.
People who tend to only shoot with natural light talk about how the quality is better and that artificial light is so terrible and ugly and they would rather die than use it.
My thoughts on this is that people who say how terrible artificial light is have no idea how to use artificial light and instead of learning how to use them they rather criticize than learn. You know who you are, stop being so negative, face your fears and embrace the power that artificial lighting can bring!
When used correctly with the correct light modifier, power, distance and color gel there is no way of telling a studio light apart from natural light. At the end of the day light is light regardless of what produces it although for the sake of this article natural light would be defined as sun light.
So which one is really better?
Neither is better, if you haven’t got the theme of this post yet, the best thing you can do is learn how to use both.
Once you have done this you can then make an educated decision and use the most appropriate light source / mix for what you are trying to achieve, mix them together and the possibilities are endless!
In a recent shoot which you can see here I combined natural light with fixed LED lighting to create an interesting scene.
The LED lights were color gelled to create the blue light giving it a cooler feeling for the background and the foreground using CTO “color temperature orange” gel to give the warmer feeling in the foreground and finally the natural light is filling in the rest of the scene.
With just natural light the scene looks really flat and relatively boring, you could do the normal thing which is to shoot with a wide aperture and blur the surroundings and draw attention to the model how ever adding some lighting as well as a wide aperture produces and even better result.
As you can see below by combining natural light with continuous LED lights and color gels and a wide aperture the scene really comes to life.
Mixed light photo, color gels, LED lights, natural light and shot with a wide aperture