6 Lighting Patterns Using Only Natural Light
6 Lighting Patterns Using Only Natural Light

Creating dramatic lighting patterns is easy to do with a strobe. You can be very deliberate with your strobe placement to mold the light and shadows, but investing in lighting gear isn’t for everyone. Thankfully you can mold natural light with your surrounding environment… and it’s free! I love how she tells you how to create certain kinds of lighting patterns by using examples! Read - "6 Lighting Patterns Using Only Natural Light" I think almost everyone knows how to pull off flat light and back light, but there are six more lighting patterns that every portrait photographer should know how to achieve. I converted all these images to black and white so you can better see the light and shadows.

Read more: 7 Natural Light Mistakes That Ruin Your Photos

  • No.
    Split Light (Side Light)

    Shadows: Split half and half. Sometimes called side light. It’s the easiest to achieve, especially indoors. It creates an image that is split between light and shadow. I also love this lighting pattern for food photography. Read more: Split lighting made easy with 5 steps. Just set your subject parallel to a single light source and shoot. maria-jung-img_3593 Download this FREE manual mode cheat sheet!

  • No.
    Rembrandt Light

    Shadows: Similar to split light except a small triangle of light on shadowed side of the face. This is one of my favorites for moody or very dramatic portraits. Rembrandt lighting leaves a triangle shape of light below the eye on one side of the face. Position your subject slightly below your light source at a 45 degree angle. I positioned her right below the window and bounced a little light back with a reflector. maria-jung-img_3606

  • No.
    Short Light

    Shadows: Shadow on the side closest to the camera This is my favorite lighting pattern and especially easy to do with kids. Simply set your subject at a 45 degree angle towards a single light source, like a window. Lighting Patterns

  • No.
    Broad Light

    Shadows: Shadow on the side farthest from the camera Very easy light pattern to achieve and basically the opposite of short light. Set your subject 45 degrees away from your light source so the light illuminates the entire side of the face closest to the camera. maria-jung-img_0254-10

  • No.
    Loop Light

    Shadows: Below and to one side of the face. This type of light is flattering for portraits. Similar to short light except the light source is higher. You’ll notice the shadows to the right and right below her nose giving it a little more depth. The light source needs to be slightly higher than your subject. Then have your subject face the light source somewhere between 30-40 degrees maria-jung-img_0201-2

  • No.
    Butterfly Light (Beauty Light)

    Shadow: Directly below nose. This is another very flattering light pattern for portraits and consider it flat light’s prettier sister. This light pattern is also called beauty light. It does a great job at smoothing skin. Butterfly light is also really fantastic for newborn photography. Position your subject directly in front of your light source with the light angled slightly downwards. maria-jung-img_0277-15

Creating dynamic portraits with natural light doesn’t have to be difficult and is a great way to practice before investing in strobes. Free Lightroom Presets

  • Miya
    December 8, 2016 at 12:09 PM

    Thank you! Very helpful lighting tips for the beginner!!! Much appreciated :)

  • Terry Cregan
    December 8, 2016 at 4:27 PM

    Fabulous! Thanks so much, just what I needed!

    • December 8, 2016 at 5:10 PM

      I’m glad you found it helpful!

  • Jagdish Rathva
    December 8, 2016 at 9:05 PM

    Very very helpful tips for amateur photographers like me. Thanks a lot

  • Vivien Dominguez
    February 19, 2020 at 10:52 AM

    Very helpful! I learned a lot! Thank you!

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