For many natural light photographers, photographing in the “Sweet Light” is the highlight of what we do. This light happens around an hour before sunset and an hour around sunrise. It’s the most beautiful, sweet and natural light of all. Timing it can sometimes be difficult, but if you allow yourself to set up your subject and get ready for the sun to start it’s decline, you will be rewarded with the prettiest of all light. It only lasts for about 20 minutes and then turns into a different kind of light, twilight, which can also be beautiful to capture. In the following images, my beautiful subject Zoe is dancing in the sweet light in Ocean Beach, California. This session was timed to capture this gorgeous light as she moved to the music in her head. Photographing with Sigma’s 24-105mm F4.0 DG (OS) HSM | A lens, I was able to create these very sharp and beautiful images. I choose to photograph wide open, at f 4.0 and use a fast shutter speed, s 1/400 to keep my images sharp, as Zoe was consistently moving. My ISO was adjusted as the light changed.
My instructions to Zoe were to dance towards the light. I showed her what the images looked like on the back of my camera so that she could get a sense of what I wanted to capture. Once she saw that fabulous light, she totally understood the importance of having the sun light look like it was just touching the edge of her body and hair. This image above was one of my favorites. I shot with the lens wide open and was amazed there was no fall off on sharpness anywhere on her body. If you look closely at the rocks as they touch the water, the softness finally appears. It’s for this reason Sigma’s 24-105mm F4.0 DG (OS) HSM I A is always with me.
These next three images were photographed within seconds of each other. The light was changing fast and I didn’t want to have to adjust my settings just yet. Zoe, who is a professional dancer continued to move and my settings were perfect for this exposure. My priority was to use a fast shutter speed, so the wide-open aperture of f 4.0 and the ISO of 200 gave me the light I needed. I was also shooting away from the direct sunlight giving me a nice blue sky. If I had turned my lens towards the sun, the sky would have been white.
This last image of Zoe with the wind blowing her hair into her face and the beautiful sunset light covering most of her body, is exactly what I saw that evening while I was photographing her. This amazing and beautiful sweet light creates a story all of it’s own. Understanding it and capturing it will heighten the impact of your imagery. Once you’ve seen “The Light” you always search for it and will feel blessed when you’re able to capture it.