Natural light includes the use of sunlight, moonlight, open sky, flames, lightning and phosphorescence. Natural light is often affected by weather. Typically photographers want more and more light on their subjects but this is a situation where more isn’t better.
As daylight becomes brighter it tends to wash out or de-saturate colors. Bright light also brings strong shadows. In the middle of the day color temperature peaks at about 6,000 degrees Kelvin and appears to have a blue tint to it. Film photographers will often add a #85 orange filter after 10:00am to counter this blue affect. And with all those light rays bouncing around a polarizing filter is often added to re saturate the color and darken the blue sky.
The “Golden hours” of daylight occur before 10:00am and after 4:00 pm in most latitudes. This is the time of day we can count on daylight taking on a warm glow of golden hues.
Moonlight produces much less volume and intensity of light and is also cooler in temperature. Remember moon light is just indirect sunlight from a tiny reflector high in the sky.
Open sky is indirect sunlight less intense and a softer form of light.
Lightning can be an object to photograph or a light source itself. Lightning has a very high color temperature and lightning bolts usually appears blue to white when recorded.
Open flames or fire is very low in color temperature and appears most often in the yellow-orange-red range unless it is supported by supplemental oxygen and will then burn blue or white in color.
So the factors we must understand in capturing natural light images are color temperature, intensity or volume of light and its direction.
A photographer should develop the ability to see light. Understand how light affects the subject and how it will be recorded.
So open your eyes and see the light. Happy shooting-Larry Grayam