National Geographic photographer Sam Abell told me years ago about natural soft boxes- Thunderstorms, light colored rock formations etc.

Abell mentioned that light reflected from a thunderstorm cloud is the most natural soft box there is.  He was right.  Portrait and landscape images with reflected cloud light make dynamic photos. No harsh shadows, pleasant earth and skin tones.

If you have patience, moonlight is another creative way to make use of natural light.  Be ready to spend a few hours shooting though. Exposures can last from several seconds to minutes. Bring plenty of charged camera batteries and a steady tripod.  Remember, moonlight is just light reflected from the sun.

The Russian River at Wholer Bridge under a full moon in August 2010. Notice the stars and the aircraft streaks are reflected on the river. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2010

Wholer Bridge bathed in full moon light during August 2010. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2010

Twin Arrows near Flagstaff under a full moon. (Kent Porter archives)

Abandoned filling station, Interstate 8. (Kent Porter archives)

With our moon on it’s way to full this week now is a perfect time to shoot.  With incoming storms forecast for this weekend an extra dimension could give depth to those moonlight exposures.  Good luck.

-Kent Porter