Direct Sunlight Photography Tips

Direct Sunlight Photography

Shooting photos in direct sunlight can lead to pictures that have lens flare, blown out highlights, high contrast, and colors that seem overly saturated. What is a photographer to do?

The following are some quick direct sunlight photography tips.

1.    Moving Into The Shade

In the case of some objects, you may have to move them along with yourself into the shade. This is especially useful in portraits whereby your subject is quite portable. Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest ones.

2.    Making Your Own Shade

In case your subject is not movable then you can create your own shade. Use your shadow or someone else’s shadow to block out the sun.Direct Sunlight Photography

3.    Using Fill In Flash

Most people know that you should always put the sun behind you when taking photos so that the subject is well lit. Lens flares or dark subjects are a common consequence of shooting into the sun but you can improve this by using a flash to fill in shadows creating by doing so.

4.    Using A Reflector

You can also fill in the shadows using reflectors. The reflectors
bounce light into the face of the subject and are wonderful since they let you to shoot into the sun as with when you are using fill in flash.

5.    Changing Your Perspective

Sometime it is not possible to move your subject. However, if you move it around, it can make a huge difference. This may involve shooting from directly above, moving to the opposite side, shooting up and getting down low. If you do so then you will change the angle of the sun hitting both the camera and your subject and give your photo a totally different feel.
Photography Theory in Historical Perspective

6.    Using A Lens Hood

If you are suffering from lens flares then you should start using the lens hood. If you do not have one then make one out of a card or you can use your hand to shield  the lens from the sun. Just ensure that the shot is free of your hand so that you do not ruin it.

7.    Using Filters

Sometimes filters can be quite handy when doing direct sunlight photography. You can carry with you Neutral Density and Polarizing filters always. Both filters reduce light getting into the camera to let you use smaller apertures and slower shutter speeds while the polarizing filter helps to reduce reflections. Polarizing filters have the additional benefit of giving you control over some colors especially when you have a blue sky in your shot.


Direct Sunlight Photography

8.    Playing With White Balance  Settings

Today, most digital cameras have the ability to choose different white balance settings. Even though it is possible to make adjustments later, choosing the correct settings during shooting is worth experimenting with. Some people prefer to shoot in RAW and edit the white balance settings later on the computer while some people prefer to do it in camera.

9.    Metering

Direct sunlight photography makes correct metering hard. In such conditions, it is advisable to select spot metering mode on your DSLR and select the main subject of the scene you are photographing to meter off. If you want everything to be exposed relatively well pick a mid tone area to meter off. Check your shots at once to see if you need to modify your technique. Alternatively, you can take multiple shots and meter off different parts of the scene so that you may select the best ones later.

10.    Choosing The Time Of Day To Shoot

If you have the luxury of waiting all day for the perfect lighting conditions then you can dramatically affect your shots. Dusk and dawn are especially good times to shoot since the direction and color of light is more usable than direct overhead light of noon.

11.    Shooting Silhouettes

If the bright light of the sun is causing you problems then you can use this to your advantage and make your subject into a silhouette against a bright background.

In conclusion, this article has been a discussion about some direct sunlight photography tips. If you are ever shooting in direct sunlight then consider the tips discussed in this article. Follow the advice herein to ensure that you take the best quality shots that you possibly can.

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How to Take Pictures in Bright Sunlight

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Transform bright light from a foe to a friend with a simple polarizing filter.

Step 1: Put on sunglasses
Put on your sunglasses—you don’t want to hurt your own eyes.

Step 2: Pick subject
Decide on what subject you wish to shoot.

Step 3: Position your back toward the sun and your subject
Position yourself according to the orientation of the sun, with your back toward the sun and your subject facing the sun to minimize shadows on their faces.

Step 4: Attach polarizing filter
Grab your camera and screw on a polarizing filter, which will help defray excess UV light.

Step 5: Set ISO to lowest setting
Set your ISO to the lowest possible setting, such as 100.

Step 6: Turn off auto-mode
Turn of your auto-mode and choose either Manual, Aperture Priority, or Shutter Speed priority modes.

Step 7: Compose shot
Compose your shot.

Compose your subject by using the rule of thirds, where your subject is either in the left or right third, not the direct middle, for the most interesting pictures.

Step 8: Focus on the subject
Focus on the subject.

Step 9: Take a light reading
Take a light reading by metering the subject.

If your camera has a built-in light meter, it will meter through the glass, adjusting for the polarizing lens. If, however, you’re using a hand-held meter, be sure to add the appropriate ƒ-stop by reading the instructions on the filter’s packaging.

Step 10: Select shutter speed and aperture
Select your shutter speed and aperture, based on your readings.

In bright situations your camera’s meter system will tend to underexpose your shot to balance out the amount of light hitting your sensor. If you want 'white' snow, not 'grey' snow, over-expose your shots by 1/2 to a full stop.

Step 11: Adjust polarizing filter until sky is deep blue
Look through your viewfinder at the subject and adjust your polarizing filter until the sky is a deep blue.

Step 12: Re-focus
Re-focus on the subject.

Step 13: Shoot until satisfied
Shoot until you’re satisfied, then shoot a little more, just in case.

Did You Know?
The intensity of ultraviolet rays increases 5% every 1000 feet of elevation you gain.