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Definitions of Ambient Light

Ambient Light traditionally refers to any form of light that the photographer did not add to their image, and can include both “natural” ambient sunlight, or “artificial” ambient light such as a nearby street light, lamp, or similar.


Ambient light means the light that is already present in a scene, before any additional lighting is added. It usually refers to natural light, either outdoors or coming through windows etc. It can also mean artificial lights such as normal room lights.

Back light

Backlight is when the light source is behind the subject.

Top Light

 A harsh beam of light coming from directly above your subject can make for an air of mystery or darkness.

Window Light

Window light is another love of many photographers. It can be wonderful when photographing portraits, food, still life, or just about anything really.

Door/Awning Light

The shade just inside a door, or under an awning can be beautiful at any time of day. However, it is extremely useful in the middle of the day when the sun is high. It gives you a gorgeous soft light that can be used in many different ways.

Hard Directional Light

Light coming from an angle without any diffusion can produce beautifully defined shadows and only illuminate patches of a scene if you compose carefully. Exposing for the highlights and not letting anything blow out can lead to dramatic yet aesthetically pleasing results

Sunrise/Sunset on a Stormy Day

When you have a sky covered in dramatic clouds, keep an eye out for breaks in those that will allow sunset light to softly illuminate your subject.


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