We’ve all been told to avoid shooting on bright sunny days or when the sun is high in the sky because contrasty light is the enemy of great photos. While there’s some truth to this rule, harsh conditions also present opportunities for capturing great images.
The six-minute tutorial below from the CameraFocus YouTube channel provides an interesting counterpoint to the notion that you should always try to shoot when the sun is lower in the sky, with several powerful tips for using harsh light to capture photos that really aren’t possible under “better” lighting conditions.
After all, it’s not possible to choose your own weather, so it’s important to understand how to use brilliant sunny days to advantage for creating images full of drama. While this lesson concentrates on techniques for action photography, the methods described work just as well for just about anything your shoot outdoors.
The first step is understanding how the direction of light affects the subject of a scene, and how a subtle change in camera position can have a big impact on your results. You’ll see how to proceed when the sun is directly overhead and what you should do when the sun is on either side of your subject.
There are also times when the light hits the subject straight on, with the sun at your back. And this requires yet a different approach for properly exposed photos. There’s also the issue of backlit subjects, and that’s part of this discussion as well.
You’ll see why your camera’s histogram can be particularly important when shooting in difficult situations. There are also several very helpful tips on composition and choosing the best camera settings for the task at hand.
Contrasty light typically means a spike in both highlights and shadows. Understanding how to deal with these competing considerations and maintain details in both areas is a key aspect of what you’ll learn. And, of, course, it’s important to accomplish all this while achieving an overall balance throughout the scene.
If action photography is your thing, you’ll also pick several helpful tips on autofocus techniques and the various AF modes that are available on most cameras. The CameraFocus YouTube channel offers a wealth of other helpful lessons, so be sure to pay a visit.
And don’t miss the tutorial we posted recently from another accomplished pro, explaining how to use exposure bracketing for perfect outdoor photos in difficult lighting situations.