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3 Simple Steps for Shooting at Sunset with Natural Light

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Here at ShootDotEdit, we know some lighting situations cause challenges. Because of this, it’s necessary to learn new ways to shoot in any scenario, including in natural light. How comfortable are you shooting in natural light? To provide you with some help for this, wedding photography duo, Zach and Jody Gray will share 3 steps to use natural light during sunset shoots to achieve images your clients will love every time.
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1. Find Natural Diffusion

First, we find something to take the sun (which is still a little bit up in the sky) and diffuse it, but NOT block it completely. Then, we put our clients’ backs to the sun, so the light creates a nice halo effect. We live in Tennessee and have LOTS of trees here, so we try and find one with some colored leaves on it that can tone down the power of the light and give us that glow and vibrant color.

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Image Compliments of Zach and Jody Gray

Related: How can you create softer light with a fabric diffuser?

2. Utilize Open Sky

Next, we make sure that there is open sky hitting their faces. If there was a tree with diffused light, but our subjects were facing a huge hill or a dark building, then the light bouncing back at them would be dull. If, however, the sun that is behind them is lighting up the sky, then bouncing back into their face and body, then we will have a nice “main” light to give good, soft light on them. If you were in the camera position from the above shot and turned your head around and looked behind you, you would see nothing but a bright open sky and that is what is hitting their faces – soft, reflected light.

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Related: Without proper light to highlight the poses you set, your images may fall flat – our free guide can help!

3. Use a Reflector as Fill-Light

When we are further away from our clients, then we don’t need perfect light in the eyes. But, as soon as we get close, we need to use a reflector in order to open up the shadows that the main light (the sky) is creating. This will give our images that finished look in the camera. We often use the silver side of our reflector because it gives lots of reflective power. If you are NOT reflecting direct sun, then silver is a good bet. If you are reflecting direct sun, then using white is a better option.

Essentially, we use the silver side of our reflector and bounce light back up into the shadows that are coming down the face from the sky (our main light). If you want to know which reflector we use, then you can download our free gear list HERE. For added effect, you can add a touch of sun-flare to the shot by just moving your camera ever so slightly into the bits of sun peeking through the tree. Removing your lens hood can help you get better lens flare, as well.

Want to learn more amazing lighting tips and tricks from Zach and Jody? Download their free eBook, The Quick Start Guide to Off-Camera Flash!

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Knowing how to use light to your benefit during the wedding day is key to delivering images your clients will love. How else can you improve your lighting skills? Grab The Lighting Guide for Wedding Photographers to discover 26 key lighting tips from wedding pro Roberto Valenzuela’s Picture Perfect Lighting!

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