Top Tips for Shooting in the Sunshine
Updated: Aug 15, 2018
Some simple tricks you can use to get better images when the sun is shining.
1 Using Shade
Bright sunshine sun creates very contrasty pictures so my first tip is to find an area of shade where the light is more even and softer. Our eyes can cope with strong contrast but our cameras can’t resulting in loss of detail in the image.
Create your own shade by standing between your pet and the sun to cast a shadow over your subject. Or use a friend as in the example shown above.
Move your subject under trees or some kind of overhang, like a bridge, or into the shadow of a wall and keep to the edge of the shaded area where the light is more even. Try to avoid going too far into a deeply shaded area. Make sure your pet has his or her back to the shade and is facing towards the light.
If you’re under trees watch out for hot spots created by breaks in the canopy. Bright areas on the face or body draw the eye and become the main focal point in the photograph. These two pictures of Tilly below shows the difference moving her a few feet can make.
2 Reflect the Light
By bouncing light back onto the subject you will fill in the shadows. It doesn’t have to be a fancy photographer’s gadget - a simple piece of white card or paper will do the job. By playing around with the angle of the reflector or board you can see how the light moves around your pet and how it lights up the shadow areas. Alternatively, you can position yourself so that you have a white/bright wall or similar behind you (the photographer) which will bounce the light back on to your subject. You’ll be surprised how much of a difference this can make.
3 Backlight and Lowlight
If your only option is to shoot in the sunshine try to angle your pet with his or her back to the sun; this blocks most of the direct light from falling on the face though this only works as long as the sun isn’t directly overhead.
If you can wait until the sun is lower in the sky (early morning or evening) the light is softer, creates amazing rim light and adds atmosphere to your images. Watch out for sun flare as it can cause haziness and loss of detail.
4 Diffusing the Light
Clouds work like wonderful, big soft boxes, diffusing the light. In this image, I had the children against the darker trees, facing into the light and waited for the clouds to briefly hide the sun. The black coat of Poppy next to the brighter clothing meant the camera struggled to cope with the extremes of light and dark in direct sunshine.
No clouds? No problem, nothing fancy is needed - anything translucent will do the trick - an umbrella, or an old sheet pegged on a washing line if you are in the garden, but try to avoid strong colours as this can create a colourcast on your subject.
5 Get Artistic
By exposing for the brightest part of the scene you render everything else very dark and create a dramatic silhouette. You are after a clean and graphic shape against the sky so make sure that there is nothing overlapping your pet like bushes, trees or people. Use a little negative space for an edgier look.