Photography is all about capturing subjects in a certain light. That light will help to evoke an emotion in order to tell a story. In Greek, photography means ‘painting with light’ so it is very important to understand the role that it plays in your picture taking. There are many photographers out there who are very strongly opinionated as to whether natural light photography or flash photography is better. There are definitely pros and cons to both techniques, and I have the answer on which will yield the best photos! Before we get to the truth let’s discuss what natural light and flashlight photography is.
Natural Light Photography is pretty self-explanatory. It is using natural light to enhance your images given off from the sun. Natural light, also known as existing light is preferred due to the natural feel the images were taken. This light could be a hard light directly from the sun on a bright day, a soft light on a cloudy or overcast day, or even dramatic light in the event of a storm or intense weather. Natural light does not cost money, but it does cost time. You can find amazing natural light anywhere, but anytime? That’s another question. Often times the best moments to catch good natural light is either right before sunset or right after sunrise or in a rare case of a thunderstorm- limiting the times you can shoot. It is also necessary to make sure you have a camera with a fast lens to ensure a sharp image. Natural light photography is preferred by many, and while they do yield beautiful results- there are still some who are avid flash photographers.
Flash Photography is using an artificial light to help brighten or improve a subject or setting. Flashlight can yield harsh shadows and give an image an overexposed look. Many flash photographers will use a flash diffuser to help decrease the strength of the flash- which helps create a softer look. There are certain settings in which it is highly recommended to leave the flash off including indoors or in low light. On the other hand, there are times when it can be ironically helpful, such as indirect light, as it can help balance the brightness by showing more detail in the shadows. While flash photography can cause redeye, it can also be very helpful in highlighting your subject. Knowing how to use flash photography can greatly improve your picture taking.
Let’s See An Example! I have showcased two family photos. One was taken with a flash. The other with natural light. Which one looks superior
I may be biased since it’s my adorable family in the pictures, but I think it can be agreed that they both look fantastic. If you couldn’t guess, the railroad photo was taken with a flash, while the beach photo was taken in natural light at about 5:30 in the morning. That didn’t go over so well with the kiddos. In any case- let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Is Natural Light Photography better than Flash Photography?
The Verdict- Neither technique is overwhelmingly better than the other. They both have cons, and they both require education and knowledge to be utilized in the best way possible. It depends on the setting, the photographers’ preference, time of day, etc. Overall, if you use the light of your choice correctly, you will turn out fantastic images.