Photo Challenge: Using Window Light

For the fourth week of the photography challenge we are going to be looking at light, learning to see it and differentiate the different types of light.

Today you get to stay inside for the challenge and learn about the qualities of window light. Find a small object – an egg or small vase would be perfect.

#MindfulPhotoChallenge Day 22


Find a window in your home with strong, direct light — that is, shafts of sunlight coming through the window. The images you take from this window will have hard-edged shadows and higher contrast (a larger difference between highlights and shadows. If you can’t find a window with a shaft of light, try your front or back door. If the sun isn’t cooperating, no worries, you can jump down to the next section “Soft Diffuse Light”.

Image # 1: Flat Lighting. For the first photo, place yourself between your object and the window, with your back to the window. Try to elevate the subject or move it far enough away so that you are not casting a shadow on it. Fill up the frame with the subject, so that we don’t see a lot of the background.

Image #2: Directional Lighting. For the second photo, place yourself on one side of the object, so that your right or left shoulder is facing the window. Notice how the object changes, how different it looks.

Image #3: Back Lighting. For the third photo, place yourself behind the object, so that the object is between you and the window. This may be a challenging image to take. In order for your object to be properly exposed, the background may become very bright or “blown out”.


Find a window in your home without shafts of light coming in, where the light is being bounced into your home from the sky. The images you take from this window will have gentle, diffuse shadows and less contrast.

If you don’t have suitable window light, try opening your front door.

window light

Take the same three photographs as described above – flat lighting, directional lighting, and backlighting.


Look at your six images and compare and contrast them.

Notice how the two flat lighting images different from each other because of the intensity of the light.

Notice how the object has more form with directional light from both windows versus the flat light images.

Notice how backlighting creates a sort of halo effect around your subject.

What else did you observe?

Share your images on Instagram with #mindfulphotochallenge and/or #RefocusPhotoChallenge, and tag me @ goodhartphotography.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like:

  • My full color 30-Day Photography Challenge Workbook here on Amazon.
  • My Photography Articles Listed and Sorted by Type here
  • My Mindful Photography Workshop here
  • My “A Gossamer Thread” Newsletter about photography/creativity, productivity, and joy here

Photo credits: Alessandro-Russon, Andrew-Neel, Olga-Kudriavtseva.