Light Matters

SPECIAL OFFERS – Up to 60% Off

Take your nature photography to the next level these awesome tutorials!

For A Limited Time Only


This is a shot from Hawaii’s big island. Pay attention to the light. Maybe you think light isn’t very important in this shot. There are no brilliant sunbeams or brightly colored skies. But I’ll argue that light is critically important to this photograph. Maybe two more photos from the same location will help convince you.

I took this shot in full sun. (Click to view larger)

As I was taking the first shot in this post, I realized that I was looking at a perfect setting for a teachable moment. I turned around and took a shot of the forest down the road – which was in bright, full sunlight. Compare it to the shady shot at the top of the post. The greens in this shot are intense… but the shadows are way too dark.  The image lacks the depth that is so much a part of the first shot, and the finished photograph is unappealing.

Half of this image is in shade and the other half is in sun. (Click to view larger)

This one is even worse. To get this shot, I turned so that I could capture an image half in sun and half in shade. The colors are washed out – this is because colors look best when they are properly exposed. In this case, the shadows are too dark, and the highlights are too bright.

Soft, even lighting works very well for photographs of wooded areas like this. In the first photo, light is evenly scattered throughout the image. The soft light brings out the rich green and gold tones in the forest, and produces a sense of depth. When you are shooting in the woods, look for shady areas, and avoid a sun and shade mix.


About Author Varina Patel

There is nothing more remarkable to me than the power of nature. It is both cataclysmic and subtle. Slow and continuous erosion by water and wind can create landscapes every bit as astonishing as those shaped by catastrophic events – and minuscule details can be as breathtaking as grand vistas that stretch from one horizon to the other. Nature is incredibly diverse. Burning desert sands and mossy riverbanks… Brilliant sunbeams and fading alpenglow… Silent snowfall and raging summer storms… Each offers a unique opportunity. I am irresistibly drawn to the challenge of finding my next photograph, and mastering the skills required to capture it effectively.