Friday, January 27, 2012

Window Shopping: Comparing Window Light

I'm still on vacation hence the infrequent posts.  Meanwhile here's a quick post about a basic lighting tip.
A common tip for lighting is to use window light.  However not all light from windows have the same quality or color.  In that regard, painters have known for centuries that in the northern hemisphere, the light from a north-facing window is the softest and most constant window light because it never receives direct sunlight.

I decided to see for myself how different north light is from south light and from the light of a window facing away from the sun.

In this experiment, I took comparison shots in a large room that had similar-sized windows facing north, south and east (i.e. away from the sun).  The sky was about the same in each direction.  The shots were taken about 1pm.

And here are unedited straight-out-of-the-camera shots of the red ball from each direction:
east (during the afternoon)
The north light is evidently the softest by far, followed by the window facing away from the sun.

I came back later in the afternoon when the sun was lower in the horizon and there were more clouds.  Under those conditions, there was almost no difference between the shadows.


  1. That's interesting Mic, don't you think that in the North picture the light is softer because the ball is further away from the window (by the look at the stairs size), and there is more reflections caused by the windows?

  2. Hi Mohammad. I'm not sure I understand your question. If the window is further away then its apparent size would be smaller and the shadows would appear harder. So with respect to distance the north window here had a 'disadvantage' in terms of softness.

    I agree though that it's not a scientific test because some variables were changed (such as distance to walls as you mentioned, the size of the windows, etc.). I encourage everyone to try out this experiment and see the results.

    Best regards,


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