Natural Light Photography, or is it??

Ooooooh, look at that light, that awesome light, its ethereal, glowing, spectacular, it makes everything pop! You know what I’m talking about, you’ve seen it. That early morning on vacation in Rome when you see the rising sun make the street in front of you come to life, or that last bit of light after a sunset in Santa Fe, where the pink clouds above make the world look like you are in a candy jar. That is magical light, so good its nearly un-replicable. We see these magical moments inside as well. Everyone has that one room in their house where the sun bursts through the window at just the right angle that it makes the room come alive. And then, 15 min later its gone, the room is flat and dull looking.

(spoiler alert, all of the above images were made on rainy or cloudy days, no sun needed.)

As a photographer the first thing I look for in any shot, is the natural light. Is it awesome? Will it get better later, or did I miss the good light earlier, are those clouds rolling in? A pre-scout usually helps me determine when the light will be best in any room of the house, so I’m prepared going in to maximize the natural light as much as possible, but then sometimes things change on the shoot day. It could be raining and dreary(happens more than a lot), so how do I deal with that?

I use professional lighting! You know, all that gear you would expect me to have ready to go when the light is really bad.

The key to using artificial lighting in my shots is to make you think its all natural light, and that has been something I’ve been trying to perfect in over 20 years of shooting. There are so many tricks we can use now with photoshop, but call me old school, I still like to get it looking nearly 95% perfect at the point of capture, thats how we had to do it shooting with film. No photoshop needed. Knowing how and when to add supplemental lighting is from years and years of observing what natural light actually looks like and does to a room, in all types of situations. It helps me get to control exactly how the final image will look, and I can adjust it to taste, like a chef. Some like a little more spice, do you?

Stephen Karlisch