For many photographic applications natural light is almost always preferable — the only problem is, oftentimes the quality of that natural light is either too harsh or too diffused. This tutorial discusses the conditions for good natural light, and how you can reproduce it using some inexpensive equipment.
In this video from Fig and Light, food photographer, Brandon Figureoa, outlines a simply way of creating evocative, natural-looking “soft sunlight” using just two strobes, a reflector, and a gobo (stenciled cardboard/paper placed in front of a light source, used to shape the light). He doesn’t just show us how to do it however, he explains why this looks pleasing to the eye by comparing it to real-life outdoor conditions. The subject matter also influences the style of the light. Here, Figureoa is photographing food that’s more commonly eaten for breakfast so the low angle of the light — creating long shadows — is motivated by light more typically experienced in the morning.
Although it’s easier to recreate this natural look for such a small subject, this method could also be applied to other genres, including portraiture. Having a suitable environment is the key to creating a believable context though. Making sure that the background doesn’t belie the true time of day can make or break a shot.
Have you used this lighting method before?