Taming Harsh Window Light

Todays post is on a window light photography technique. Window light can provide stunning light when used imaginatively. The rule of thumb when using a window as your light source is to use one that the sun is not directly shining in. I live in Canada so that would generally mean a north facing window. But, if the sun is on the east side of a building, then a west facing window will do, or if the sun is on the east side of the building, then a west facing window will work. If you have a cloudy day, then so much the better. Any of these scenarios will give us a nice gentle, soft, light source.

Sometimes though, you wind up with a window that bright sunlight is pouring through. So much for your nice soft light source. Attempting to use the window directly will create a very contrasty, harshly light image which may not be what you are looking for. So here is my go to solution for this situation. Do not use the window as the light source – directly.

Instead, find yourself a larger white reflector. I use the collapsible reflectors but a sheet or foam core board or anything white that is about 32″ across or more will work. Position your model to the one side of the window so the light does not strike them directly. Use your reflector to light your model by reflecting the window light back onto your model. This will give you that soft light and allow some directionality control of the light source.

Experiment with this technique. Once you have practiced with it, you will love the results you get.

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