Photography and Harsh Sunlight

April 05, 2016

The Sun Is Our Friend

Most photographers, myself included love shooting outside when it is overcast and cloudy.  Why, you ask?  Well, clouds are nature's softbox.  There are no harsh shadows and no sun to try to overpower.  You can often still use a reflector or pop a little bit of light onto the subject with strobes.  With clouds, you are not having a fight with the sun.  The sun, however, has many benefits once you learn how to work with it and not against it.

In the photo above it was partly cloudy out and during a period of overcast I adjusted my camera settings to shoot at F2.8 with my 70-200 at 200mm with a shutter speed of 250 and ISO 100.  That set up my background and I planned on popping just a bit of flash from my Broncolor Siros as fill flash and add some catchlights in her eyes.  Just as I was set up and ready, the sun started coming out.  Normally at this point I start from scratch but in this case I decided to take advantage and make the photo more two dimensional.  I intentionally had her facing away from the sun just in case the sun did come out.  What this did was create some highlights in her hair which adds interest to the photo.  It did light up the background a bit much but as you can see in this photo, there is no doubt that she is first and foremost the primary subject.  This sprinkling of sunshine ended up giving the photograph more realism and really makes it pop.  If you look at the histogram for this photo you will see that I was on the cusp of overexposure.  The subject and her white top have all of the detail still intact.  In the end, I'm glad that I did not change my settings in an attempt to overpower the sun.  The sun really brings life to this picture.  Next time you are on a shoot, work with the sun and don't try to fight it.  You just may like the results.  

Keep clicking away,

Jeff

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