If you have two or three days in one place, then for an important picture you can and should consider the time of day that would show the subject to its best effect. This works only when the weather is predictable, but you should also consider working with a variety of climatic conditions, rather than struggling against them.

To get the most from any situation, you need to be able to realise the potential of any type of lighting, be it a misty morning, stark midday tropical sunlight, the soft glow of dusk, or even the unpromising, shadowless light from a heavy overcast sky.

Of course a flash and various kinds of reflectors can help, but it is always best to work with natural light. All light can be put to good use, and knowing how to make the best of any given condition will greatly improve the flow of your photography on the journey.

Light and Geography

Natural light is affected by a host of conditions and variables: where on the planet you are, what latitude and height above sea level, distance from the sea or from mountains. Geography affects the weather, and weather affects the light. Nothing is settled and the variables are infinite. There are even micro-climates that make the light in a short stretch of coastline and other confined areas different from the surroundings, such as in northern California and Oregon, for example. But the broad geographical picture, drawn by a mixture of the latitude, moisture, and altitude, is covered by the following eight divisions.


Lying in the middle latitudes between the tropics and the poles, and referring to most of Europe and North America, this regions climate is extreme only in the centre of large continents. It has the lighting conditions for which cameras and their sensors are designed. That means a variety of cloud cover, often daily, a range of seasons with summer days up to twice as long as winter days, but with the sun never really low or high.

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