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Light is your greatest ally. After all, the essence of photography is capturing light. So before you jump into a scene all trigger-happy, be sure to study the light around you.

Learning about light direction and knowing how to work around different lighting situations is an important step forward in improving your photography.

As a general rule, light from shallow angles is far more flattering than light from directly overhead. That is why some of the best light of the day can be found just after sunrise and just before sunset – when the sun is low in the sky and casting soft shadows.

You have probably heard a lot of photographers advocating why you shouldn’t shoot in the midday sun. This isn’t an absolute rule but one of the main reasons for avoiding it is because it is harsh and creates stark, unpleasant shadows.

Get into the habit of examining the lighting conditions around you before you compose the shot and consider how the light is influencing the scene. The ‘best’ shot might not be the most obvious depending on the direction and intensity of light.

The great thing is you can practice this at any time, with or without a camera. Look around you now and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What direction is the light coming from?

  • How intense is it?

  • Is it warm or cool?

  • Where are the shadows falling?

  • Can you deflect or diffuse the light?

  • What can you change to work around difficult lighting situations?

  • Where would you best place your subject to achieve the shot you want?

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