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How to Shoot Photos in Harsh Sunlight

How to Shoot Photos in Harsh Sunlight

As a photographer, you don’t always get to choose the time of day you are needed to shoot an event or session. Sometimes the wedding you are photographing is an outdoor event scheduled for noon. Maybe the family photo session is taking place on the white sands of the beach under the midday sun. These tips will help you capture gorgeous photos under the harsh sunlight without blowing out your highlights or ending up with unflattering squinty faces.

Front Lighting
This type of lighting occurs when you face your subject so they are looking into the sun. If you are shooting portraits, make sure you give your subject several breaks to allow them to close their eyes and look away from the sun. Accessories can help you avoid the dreaded eye squinting. Sunglasses, hats and umbrellas can add to the image while also protecting the subject’s eyes. Instead of having your subject look directly into the harsh sunlight, capture candid-style shots. Shooting these types of images will engage your subject in the activity instead of looking directly at the camera and harsh sunlight.


Back Lighting
Photographing in the harsh sunlight requires experimenting with different perspectives. Using back lighting where you put the sun directly behind your subject can create a dreamy look. A fill flash or a reflector will help you make the image sharper when using back lighting. These techniques will help you bounce the light to keep your exposure even. To prevent flare, choose your lens from wisely. Using a fixed focal length or prime lens will help you avoid lens flare when shooting in harsh sunlight. Because wide angle lenses are mainly used under bright lighting situations, they are designed to also be more flare-resistant as well.


Embrace the Shadows
Shooting in harsh sunlight can be frustrating. Instead of avoiding these situations, try using this opportunity to take more creative shots. The harsh, overhead sunlight can create some dramatic and interesting shadows. Find pockets of light and place your subjects in that light and tilt their face towards the sun. Search for open shadows or shadows cast from landmarks or buildings. Look at where those shadows are falling and try to incorporate different patterns and shapes to make your image more dramatic.

Utilize Lens Filters
A simple way to give yourself an advantage vs a disadvantage when shooting in harsh sunlight is to use a lens filter from A good lens filter will reduce the light intake. Using a lens filter will also cut out reflected or diffused light giving you more contrast. Keep a set of lens filters in your camera bag so you can experiment with motion blur effects using slower shutter speeds. You can also experiment with your depth of field to make your image sharper using a lens filter.

These tips will help you take the best photos possible when you have to shoot your photos in harsh sunlight.


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