Using Natural Light in Landscape Photography

The quality of the light is as important as the composition for a landscape photo’s success. While composition can be controlled, high-quality lighting cannot. The direction of the light can be controlled, but we cannot control how it looks. Therefore, the best angle of light is essential to improve the appearance of our main subject. This will ultimately make our landscape photographs more successful. There are four types of lighting: top, side, and front lighting. Take into account how you envision your scene under different lighting options. Next, choose the best lighting for your subject. Finally, shoot in the right time and place to capture the subject in this lighting.

Occurring in the middle of the day

Top Lighting

Top lighting should be avoided for landscape photography. It does not cast shadows and does not convey texture, shape, or form, which are essential to creating dimension in landscape photographs. Top lighting can be used when water is at its most turquoise color. This is only possible if the sun is directly above.

These events occur just before sunset and shortly after sunrise.

Front Lighting

The front light, similar to top lighting, does not create texture, form, or shape. Even worse, your shadow will most likely be visible in the scene. Avoid this lighting in all situations.


Backlighting can be tricky because of the contrast between subject and background. Lens flare can also make it challenging to photograph. It is recommended that you use a lens cover to protect the lens from flare when shooting in back-lighting conditions. Backlighting is not allowed in landscape photography. This is because you want to create silhouettes of your subject.

Side lighting

Side lighting provides the perfect light source to show a subject’s texture and form. It casts subtle shadows that create a feeling of depth and dimension, which gives the image a more human feel. Side lighting is a great way to capture your subject, as it creates a three-dimensional image.

Simply change your position and capture the image!

An interesting fact is that different lighting conditions and angles can produce different results when shooting at different times of the year. The color of the water can vary depending on its angle and the season. The best time to get turquoise water is in the middle of the day when the sun shines directly through it. The water will not turn as turquoise if it is taken in winter as opposed to summer. This is because the sun doesn’t travel as far overhead as it does in summer and instead rises only 3/4 of the way up in the middle.