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Shooting in Natural Light

Lesson 2 of 6

Take Advantage of Natural Light

Dave Krugman

Shooting in Natural Light

Dave Krugman

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Lesson Info

2. Take Advantage of Natural Light

Lesson Info

Take Advantage of Natural Light

I've always loved natural light and I don't think it's to me it's always been easier to work with natural light the complexities of lighting technology and stuff like that I've done a lot of that and it's really interesting to me, studio photography but I think as a street photographer, that's why I love street photography so much it's because it's kind of like this game where you're moving through the world you really don't have any control besides your perspective, and everything around you is kinda shifting and moving and it's identifying those moments that make shooting in natural light so interesting. Because if you're lighting a studio portrait you can control every little thing and it's this really intentional and designed process but when you're out in the streets like for example this scene in Cuba, it's like this thrilling game, and it makes moving through the world this really interesting process of the art of observation so to speak. And so identifying what light do we have...

here, what subject do we have here, what perspective can we take, and I'm gonna show you over the course of this presentation a ton of different examples of how I've used natural light in my street photography and then how that applies to my portraiture work. I live in New York, I think New York is kind of like the mecca of street photography, it's absolutely amazing because there's so much swirling and moving around you and all these layers overlapping and I put in this image as an example, I saw that the light was shining directly from the sun down, 42nd street or something like that, and I noticed that it was creating this really interesting layering where people's shadows were hitting different surfaces and stuff like that. So I stood on the street corner for half an hour and took all these different examples. Really, when I'm out in the streets, that to me is it's like practicing an instrument or something like that. Because you're kind of thrown into all these situations where you have to react really quick and the best education I've ever got in photography is just walking around New York City and looking at all these different elements and layers. This is an example of what I consider the visually appealing photograph of a certain moment in time. Which is created by a natural light process. Again, street photography is there's this expression I love which is "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." And I think that kind of defines what's a lucky shot in photography. It's when you're prepared, and you have the opportunity. So in this moment in Central Park, I was focusing on the woman with the red umbrella, and all of a sudden I see these birds just flying back and forth and I was like prepared, I had an opportunity, and I got a lucky shot. So I just like thinking about photography in that way. Also I mean, this is a good example too of how different natural light can be. Like in the first one it's a very sunny and bright picture and that's natural light, and then this one the fog completely mutes everything but you know it's just a different approach to the same kind of light, and I'll dive into the different types of natural light in a few slides here. I love street photography in New York because the opportunity to just react really quickly and make something kind of fun or compelling is always there. This is an example of anybody familiar with Manhattanhenge? It's I think four days a year? The sun aligns perfectly with 42nd street and it's like this, just one of the best natural light areas to shoot in. You can see all these people in the background are all focused on the sun. I'm always looking at the world, and again this kind of reminds me of what I said earlier about the music and the yin and yang of light and shadow, just how much interesting stuff you can do with just a little simple natural light. Like I said, it's kind of like this process of moving through the streets is learning and studying, and then when I have more commercial work, or I'm doing portraiture work, that stuff can really, it all translates. Everything that you learn from doing street photography really translates into the real world as well. So this is another street photograph, all natural light, I kind of like the repetition happening here, and even in the sunglasses you see the reflection of himself and the reflection of the door, and so I just like to think about how light is moving and bouncing around the world, and I'ma talk in a bit about the physicality of light, 'cause that's really interesting to me. So yeah, moving through the streets, and starting to shift towards, how do we apply what we've learned in the streets, to how do we apply that to portraiture work? So this is kind of a halfway point in that journey, because this is obviously a portrait, but it's a candid street shot. But I'm really conscious of the way that light I took this photo because of the way that the light was falling, and like all the color, and it just was this kind of like, it looked like a studio, but it was in the street. And this reminds me that all that stuff can be applied to portraiture work as well. It's one of the reasons that I prefer natural light, is that thrilling challenge of working with what's available like I'm even excited today for our shooting segment where we're gonna work in here and see in what looks like a studio space what we can make with just natural light. I'm excited about that.

Class Description

For some photographers, capturing images with natural light is an anxiety producing process. Unlike studio lighting, nature doesn’t always cooperate, and you never know when you’ll be met with too many clouds, too much sun, or something in between. Renowned street photographer Dave Krugman will teach you how to deal with a variety of natural lighting situations so you can get optimal results no matter the weather.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Get the most out of whatever light you have.
  • Enhance available light with various techniques.
  • Deal with reflections, shadows, and hard and soft light.

If you’re more comfortable with artificial studio lighting, then this course is a great way to gain the confidence you need to create beautiful, impactful images with natural light. 


Catherine Ferraz

Great class, thankful You give us the time your advice and tips in this creative career.


Dave is low key and very articulate and brings a great understanding of the science of light to his discussion...also like his thoughts about stamping work w/intentionality of the artist.