Why there is no such thing as bad light

Sometimes the light is just bad, right? Harsh sun overhead or flat pale-grey sky or a gloomy room with no window light. What we wouldn’t give for a golden sunset or a bright window to illuminate a room.

Think about how we describe the weather. In the UK at least, we tend to say that the weather is good if it’s warm and sunny. Looks like rain? Well that could be ‘bad’. Too hot? That becomes bad too, depending on personal preference, media headlines and the likelihood of humidity. It’s all personal of course and sometimes dependant on a desire to go to the beach, play golf or get to work without long transport delays. But it’s so easy for the language to stick, so that rain becomes bad rather than something necessary and to be enjoyed.

And so with photography. It’s too easy to think that the light in some circumstances is bad and others good. If you need a very specific image, then weather conditions might well hinder your efforts and necessitate the use of other equipment or techniques to achieve a similar effect. But often it’s an opportunity to get creative and see what the conditions can bring to the image. There have been some great images, even portraits, taken in ‘harsh’ overhead sunlight for example. A gloomy room with minimal light might be just the time to switch to manual mode and try out some low-key shots. Try experimenting and maybe the light won't seem so bad after all.