Lighting is one of those critical elements to photography that comes with rules. Rules are also meant to be broken and I should know- you should’ve known me in college. I won’t get into it with portraits since that is out of my comfort zone. I will just concentrate on landscape photography and flower photography.
I will start with this. I hate bright sunny days, especially at mid day. It is very difficult to do anything with it. The light is harsh, the shadows are short with too much contrast between light and dark. Your eyes can handle it but your camera doesn’t handle it very well. I do have a couple of examples where it works. This photo, which I named Sailing into the Light, was taken around high noon, into the sun, off the coast of California. The sun was high in the sky and cast light on the ocean that reflected off the water.
The following photo of the Organ Pipe cactus flower was taken at 10:30 am. The sun was somewhat low on the horizon and back lit the flowers. To bring the most out of these flowers, I processed this photo into black and white and took out the background as black.
My favorite time to photograph is during the magic hour which is about one hour after sunrise or one hour before sunset. The shadows are long, and the light is muted and warm. This explains why I photograph a lot of sunsets. I tend not to do sunrises since its too early before I have had my third or fourth cup of coffee. This photo was taken in the late afternoon during the magic hour on the west coast of Vancouver Island near the town of Port Renfrew, British Columbia. There is a lot of cloud drama with the low warm light bathing the island, the water and the rocks.
I hope some of these ideas helps. To be a better photographer, you have to be conscious of the lighting and what you want to do with it. If you like these photos, you can purchase them on my photography website.