Working with Full Sun – Embracing the Light | Sally Zarka

Full sun is one the hardest lighting scenarios you will face as a photographer but also one of the most rewarding. It produces amazingly vibrant images. The bright sun brings out all of the colours from your subjects and makes for very exciting images.

At it’s highest point in the sky the sun will hit your subject with very hard, direct light. Working with such harsh light, with it’s extraordinary contrasts of light and dark, is what makes it so tricky and yet so exciting to work with.

You will have to work hard to either eliminate the harsh shadows from your subject or embrace them to get the image that you want. In the images above the sun was very high in the sky and only ever so slightly to camera left. I had the groom nestle into his bride to avoid shadows on his eyes and asked the bride to close her eyes to shop any squinting.

In the image below I stood above my subject. When you do this you allow your subject to look up at you which in turn eliminates the dreaded panda eyes.

Another trick is to ask your subject to close their eyes and only open them once you are ready to press the shutter. I usually tell them to open their eyes on the count of 3. Make sure you are ready to press that shutter as you won’t have long before they involuntarily shut them again.

Shooting off to the side is a great way of getting that full sun look without having to make your subject fully face the harsh sunlight.

Here you can see from her shadow and the slight shadowing on her face that the sun is off at a 45 degree angle to my camera. This technique not only makes it easier on your subjects eyes, but provides some very interesting shadows on the subject’s face which helps to “pop” them off the page.

Below is another example of very strategic subject placement. I placed my subject with the sun at a 90 degree angle. The sun now causes some slight shadowing on her face to lift her off the page and stop any flat lighting.

But, by standing above her I have avoided any shadows from forming under her eyes.

 As long as I’m not looking for eye contact from my subject I will totally embrace the brightness and work with the sun to produce an image with dramatic light. If you make sure that you expose for the brightest part of the scene when working with this type of light you will get some awesome lighting in your images.

So don’t be afraid to get out there and experiment with that bright midday sun. Embrace the light and just try it 🙂

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  • Natalie Fay GreenDecember 11, 2013 - 12:14 pm

    Love these tips from a wonderful photographer!ReplyCancel