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Nikon D3200 Digital Field Guide by Alan Hess

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Types of Light

There are three main categories of light: Natural, continuous, and flash. Natural light is light that is already present in the scene, such as sunlight. Light that is added to the scene is either continuous lighting or flash. The different types of light can be mixed to create a better image. For example, you can use a flash to add light to a scene predominantly lit by natural light. When creating photographs, it is essential to understand what light is present, and what light needs to be added or modified to yield the best results.

Natural light

Natural light is all around us all day long. Even on the cloudiest day, there is still natural light present. Natural light can be extremely flattering or it can be overly harsh—it all depends on the time of the day, the current weather, and the location where you are photographing. A key fact to remember when using natural light as your main light source is that it changes constantly as the sun moves across the sky. The light present at 8 a.m. is very different from the light present at 2 p.m.

Some examples of natural light are:

Window light. Window light is, essentially, natural light that comes in through a window (or a door). It is often used for portraits, and it really does produce great results. The concept is simple: place your subject next to a window and use the light streaming in from outside to illuminate it. The reason this light works so well is that it takes a small, hard light source—the sun—and turns ...

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