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Since reflected light is what photographic/digital cameras use to create images, lighting is clearly a key element in all kinds of photography. Light may also be classified by its direction with relation to the subject.
There are four of these classifications for light (natural or artificial).

Overhead - high contrast & harsh shadows

This is a typical example of the harsh shadows that result when the sun is high in the sky.
When it is necessary to shoot at this time of day, flash "fill" can help.

Front - flat, lacks depth, dimension

Back - may require additional fill or reflector

Side - good for bringing out textures, defining shapes

The side lighting brings out the texture of the petals and emphasises the cactus spines.

Overcast (clouds filtering sun) - lower contrast, good for details, fewer shadows

The diffused light from an overcast or partly cloudy sky allows you to see the details
of the coyote's expression and the variety of shades in his fur.

Another characteristic of light is the quality, often defined as "hard" or "soft."
Hard light is very bright, resulting in sharp shadows, while soft light is diffused,
displaying better range of details, as with the Overcast condition mentioned above.

Night-time outdoor shot with artifical overhead lighting & flash

Early morning sunlight

Reading this now and looking at my pics, it all makes sense.

I am using regular sunlight - which is always overhead.

Depending on the time of the day and the suns setting, my shadows are either hard or soft. But the reflection on the light makes some colors hard to shoot.

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Excellent topic. I have been shooting my diecast models outdoors for the past 8 years - in the same location for most of the pictures.

That said, I've worked with various types of sunlight by shooting at different times of the day - even in the rain for a little added effect. I've found that shooting under overcast skies gives the best result, although it does make it a little more difficult to shoot areas like the interior, engine compartment, and trunk without using a flash, which I don't like to use.

Also, with regards to overcast skies, I've found that the thinner cloud layers work better. Of course, this really isn't in my control although at times I've wished it was. The heavier the layers of clouds, the less light you have.

Also, on a bright sunny day, a little shade will work much like the cloud cover.

Here are a couple of my cloudy day shots -


I'm just so tired of messing with Light Tents as the setting up and breaking them down is more than what I want to do.

I just want to lay some poster board paper and then just take pics.

I tried messing with the tents,albeit, homemade and it never felt like a natural process - almost like the fun was taken out of it.

So now, I am just going with natural sunlight and just camera settings.
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