I got a request from a reader to write about how I work with light, especially when it comes to outdoor photography. My studio is what nature gives me, and my studio light is the biggest lamp in the world - our majestic sun!
The trick is to know what different angles does. When I began my photography journey (like 15 years ago, lol, I used to bring my computer with webcam to the stable when I were 7 or 8 years old), I got this idea that the light always should come from behind the photographer. And that the best days to have a photoshoot were in the middle of the day, with a clear blue sky. Literally the opposite of how my favorite photo-days is now, haha!
It's hard to describe how I think, because I just "look and catch". I keep my eyes open, search for small spots of light, how the shadows builds up and what effect it has on the motive. I love days when the sky is covered in a soft cloud, because it makes the shadows soft. When the sun is low, as in mornings or afternoon, you can get wonderful effects - then I try to choose an angle where the light comes from behind the motive or from the sides.
My best advice in how to learn about how light works, is to try every angle - find a spot, walk around in a circle and take pictures. Explore how the light falls, what effects it may cause from different perspectives. Try to tilt the camera in different angles - what happens? The more you try, the more you will learn about how the light works. It's like a dance, it may be hard in the beginning - but the rythm is the same, as soon as you get it in your system you'll never forget it.
Another advice is to just look. Bring a friend, put that friend in different places and observe the light. If your friend tilt their head, how do the light form the face? What if your friend turn around, any difference? Observe, observe and learn!
Cloudy day with rain in the sky:
Early morning with backlight:
Early morning with backlight (and rime), from a low angle and the camera slightly tilted towards the ground: