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Ambient Light

Ambient light means the light that is already present in a scene, before any additional lighting is added. It usually refers to natural light, either outdoors or coming through windows etc. It can also mean artificial lights such as normal room lights.

Ambient light can be the photographer's friend and/or enemy. Clearly ambient light is important in photography and video work, as most shots rely largely or wholly on ambient lighting.

Unfortunately ambient light can be a real nuisance if it conflicts with what the photographer wants to achieve. For example, ambient light may be the wrong color temperature, intensity or direction for the desired effect. In this case the photographer may choose to block out the ambient light completely and replace it with artificial light. Of course this isn't always practical and sometime compromises must be made.

On the other hand, many of history's greatest photographs and film shots have relied on interesting ambient light. Unusual lighting can turn an otherwise ordinary shot into something very powerful.