Many photography book recommend taking photos with natural lighting in a room with a north-facing window? All my books were bought in the Northern Hemisphere but now I live on the Equator. Which direction should my window face to get the same type of lighting? What if I would move further South into the Southern Hemisphere?


2 Answers 2


The only thing that means is that it is recommended that the sun does not enter directly thru the window.

See what happens if the window is pointing north (on the northern hemisphere). From autumn to spring the sun will be on the south side of your house, so will not hit the north window.

enter image description here

In summer (northern hemisphere) if you live below the tropic the sun could hit your north window.

enter image description here

If you live in the equator that means that you could use a north window from autumn to spring.

But that is a little dumb if you do not have a rotating house n_n.

To specifically answering the question, you could invert the concepts. The southern hemisphere, south window, and seasons.

But I would forget about the geographical conditions. We need need to understand the nature of light.

Some variables I can think of is what is happening outside that window.

  • The hour of the day
  • Is it sunny or not
  • Do you have another building or wall in front of the window
  • What color is that what is on the outside
  • What kind of glass I have in the window
  • What curtains I have.

The main point is that on that particular case you want a defused light. Period.

But dam! if the light is great at 9 am and enters wonderfully into your beautiful window on a great still life theme, use it!

A specific case is for portrait photography. Direct sunlight on a face can be difficult to handle, but you can always use as a highlight instead of the main light. So you also can use direct sunlight in an interior on a portrait too.

There is a big chance you need to bounce some light or use a fill flash to reduce the contrast.

If your windows are pointing to:

East That means you try to shoot after 12:00 hrs.

West Before 12:00 hrs.

And whatever combination of shade/orientation of the windows.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Don't have a rotating house but I do have multiple windows :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 15:45
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Your second illustration is labeled incorrectly. If one lives below the tropic (i.e. in the southern hemisphere) then the illustration shows winter, not summer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Nov 17, 2016 at 3:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ I will work in a more clear ilustration. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rafael
    Commented Nov 17, 2016 at 11:15

In the southern hemisphere south of the tropics you would use a south-facing window.

In the tropics it becomes a bit tricky:

  • From late March until late September the sun is north of the equator and you would use a south-facing window if you were exactly on the equator.
  • From late September until late March the sun is south of the equator and you would use a north-facing window if you were exactly on the equator.
  • For the entire year the sun is higher overhead at midday than at subtropical, temperate, or arctic latitudes. This means that during the middle of the day it wouldn't apply much at all since the sun would be almost directly overhead, rather than high in the south or high in the north as ti is in the subtropics or even further from the equator.

The general concept applied in telling residents of the northern hemisphere to use a north-facing window is to use a window on the opposite side of the house from the wall that is getting direct sunlight. In the tropics, this might mean using a west-facing window early in the day, an east facing window late in the day, and a north or south facing window during the middle of the day, depending on if the sun is south or north of the house you are using.

  • \$\begingroup\$ A window opposite of the sun sounds like the perfect recipe for making boring shots... \$\endgroup\$
    – user29608
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 14:31
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ It means the light will be more even and diffused rather than hard and too much brighter than the interior. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 14:34

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