2019-07-09

How To Take Photos in Harsh Sunlight - Tutorial Tuesday



Welcome back to Tutorial Tuesday where every Tuesday, you get a brand new photography tutorial. This week, we're looking at how to take photos in the bright, harsh, midday sun.

When to shoot?


My favourite time of day to shoot is during golden hour. It gives you that soft light, lovely tones and colour and for me, it is the best light to shoot in.



Unfortunately, with it being summer, golden hour is either super early in the morning or around 9pm which means there’s a huge chunk of the day with bright sunlight giving you harsh, unflattering shadows and making it difficult to get great photos.

But you can’t just not shoot for most of the day, sometimes the only time you’re available to shoot is while it’s bright and sunny outside, so let’s run through some tips for how to shoot in that bright midday sun.

Tip 1 - Control your light

There are a number of ways to control your light, you can bounce it around so that it fills out shadows, you can diffuse it, you can use shade.

Let’s start by talking about bouncing the light. The easiest way and probably the most common way of doing this is using a reflector. This is a bright object (you can view some here) that you can use to reflect the sunlight onto your subject which helps to fill out those shadows and create much nicer light.




That’s a great way of controlling the light but, I go out and shoot alone a lot or with one subject so there’s no one to hold the reflector and we’re moving around a lot so I don’t tend to put it on a stand so I tend to look for naturally bright surfaces in the world to reflect light back onto my subject.



In these photos we were standing on white concrete which was reflecting the light up onto us and filling in those harsh shadows to give a much softer image.

But that’s not the only way to control your light, you can use a diffuser to soften the light. This is very similar to a reflector, but rather than reflecting the light, it’s going to diffuse it making it much softer and making the shadows much softer as well.



Tip 2 - Use the shadows creatively

It can also be great to use the light and shadows to your advantage and get some creative shots.

I shoot a lot in the forest when it’s sunny because the trees naturally diffuse the light but they also allow little streaks of light to come through which can create some interesting shots.



You can get this same effect from buildings, stairs, almost anything that casts a shadow can give you great shots if you can get creative with the shadows.



That’s one of the biggest differences between good and bad shots in this sort of light, how intentional you’re being as a photographer.

Tip 3 - Shoot in the shade

When all else fails, look for some shade. The light is going to be a lot softer here and you’ll likely end up with a nicer photo. I do this a lot whether it’s in the forest, the shadow of a building or anywhere to get out of the sunlight.



Tip 4 - Move Around

This one sounds a little bit wishy washy but by taking a few extra minutes to move around, it can make all the difference.

Once you’ve found a spot that you want to shoot in, it’s worth taking a few minutes to turn your model and see how the light is falling onto them, how the shadows look, how the background looks before taking your shot.


It’s also worth moving around as a photographer, a slightly different angle can make all the difference, for example, when we were reflecting the light off the ground, by getting lower to the ground, my model was able to angle her face down a bit more catching more of that reflected light.

Conclusion

So those are our tips for shooting in the bright, harsh midday sun, you can watch our full Tutorial Tuesday video above and you can see a full list of all the equipment we used on this shoot.

Equipment used on this shoot:
Sony A7 III - http://bit.ly/30iwXv6
Sony 24-70mm f2.8 GM - http://bit.ly/32dGzJn
Zeiss 40mm f2 - http://bit.ly/2LFEYGo
Reflector - http://bit.ly/2Xy52KS
Diffuser - http://bit.ly/2RZtIWw

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