Photo Tip: Outdoor Lighting Tip part 5

by Sonya Murphy on November 10, 2009

Broad Daylight
Ok, so you don’t have a choice and you have to take a picture in the harsh lighting– then what? There are things you can do to help ensure a better photo. Here are a few tricks that can help.

If you keep the sun behind you and face your subject then the sun will be directly in the subjects face. This will cause them to squint. Of course, this isn’t a natural look and will be unsightly in most cases.

So try turning in such a way that the sun is off to the side of both of you. Now you have to check to see how the shadow plays across the subjects face. Look carefully to see if there will be shadows or splotches across the subjects face. If not, then you should get a good picture. (See the first photo example below) If you view shadows or splotches then keep turning slightly and checking until you get the lighting to where you are satisfied.

You can also try having the sun directly behind the subject. Then get someone to hold a shield of some sort to shade the camera and lens so as not to get sun spots or glare. Depending on the subject & lighting this may cause a stark difference in the light background vs. the face of the subject. So a fill flash might be useful to even it out. Not sure then try one with, and one without.

Do you want to try an extra challenge? Try experimenting using a reflector. Ok so you don’t have any fancy camera equipment. Then try a reflective car sunscreen shield. Those can be fun to experiment with. You can have someone help hold it in such a way to direct more light into the shady areas. It can create some interesting pictures so experiment and see.

Another challenge would be to get some thin lightweight material that can let light thru. Then have someone hold it up as if shading the subject but what it will do is filter the sunlight and diffuse it so it’s not so harsh.

In the second picture sample below you will find a lovely young lady. The picture is ok but could be made better. How? Using what they call a fill flash, reflector, or diffuser could help lighten up or soften the shadowy areas.

I’ve said this before and will again. Often times the situation is such that you can’t rearrange the subject or event, so it’s best to take something than nothing at all. When we had film it wasn’t so easy to waste a picture; but with digital images, it’s easier to experiment without the cost of developing.

As with most art….rules have been broken and fantastic work comes from it. These are only guides to help you compose better pictures till you know and understand your camera, and more of what you are doing before clicking a picture. So be sure to experiment and practice!

You can view some photo samples using this tip (from a previous post) by clicking here.

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