There are three elements that define whether the light is better or worse: the color (chromatic spectrum of light), quality and direction. In order for us to use it well, it is essential to understand them, the way they relate and what effect they have on any photographic subject.
If we know how to do it, it will be easier, for example, to decide the best time of day to be in a certain place and from which direction it would be best to photograph it.
The hue of the light changes as we see the sun shift its position on the horizon throughout the day.
The lower the sun is on the horizon, the warmer (yellow-orange) the light.
As the sun rises over the horizon, the light becomes cooler (bluisher), looking closer to normal.
If there are high clouds covering the sun, the light will be even colder and the photographs will almost certainly have a bluish overtone.
The quality of sunlight is determined by the position of the sun and the weather.
As such, it can vary at a glance when light that falls directly into it is filtered by clouds.
A small interval in a dense layer of low clouds can transform an ordinary scene into something extraordinary in a mere second, just by the change that operates in the light falling on that scene.
Direct sunlight gives rise to a harder light
Especially when the sun is at its highest.
The shadows are shorter and the contrast greater, meaning there will be fewer color tones between white and black.
The colors present are strong and somewhat bluish. They can also appear somewhat washed out by the intense luminosity coming from above.
In the two or three hours after dawn and before sunset, direct light is not as harsh as when the sun is at its highest.
All hues present are faithfully reproduced and the fact that the sun is still in between creates shadows of some length – it highlights textures and adds interest and depth to what is photographed.
At sunrise and sunset, the very low angle of sunlight generates very long shadows – often the photographer himself has to fight his own.
The texture and shape of the objects is accentuated and the orange hue of the backdrops creates a very attractive and dramatic atmosphere.
indirect light produces a softer light.
On cloudy but bright days and when the sun is behind a cloud, the shadows fade and the contrast is reduced so that it is possible to photograph in detail throughout the composition.
Colors come out saturated especially close to the lens.
Rain, mist and fog generate even softer light and almost nullified colors. Shadows and contrast disappear. If cloud cover is dense and light is low, that light will be dull and flat.
It's not just the shade of light that changes throughout the day. It's the same with the direction of light.
Paying attention to which direction the light is hitting the scene or object you are going to photograph is crucial to improve the quality of your photographs.
The direction in which light strikes an object or scene changes gradually throughout the day.
However, it was stipulated to be considered four main directions:
1) Front - Provides clear images with strong colors.
However, as shadows are hidden behind the object or scene, this type of lighting makes the images appear flat, without depth.
2) Side - It highlights textures and shapes and adds a third dimension to photography.
3) Zenital - it happens when the sun is at its peak and almost never favors objects or scenery.
Here we make an exception for crystal clear waters where the damp light enhances the colors and transparency.
4) Against light – occurs when the sun is directly in front of the camera.
A popular use of front light is silhouettes at sunset.
If the objective is not to obtain a silhouette, the photograph will have to be taken with extreme care (possibly with the support of flash light so that the subject, person does not lose color and/or detail.
In case the light is falling in an unfavorable way, as a rule, there are several solutions:
1 – Change the object
2 – Change place
3 – Wait for the light to change
4 – Return to a time when the light is more favorable to photography