(Article Trader) -Photographers generally choose to shoot only in the early morning or evening hours in sunny climates due to the challenges posed by shooting under direct sunlight, but there are times when shooting under sunny conditions is the only option. Thankfully there are several tips that can help make photos taken in the sun look bright and vibrant rather than washed out and poorly exposed.
1. If your camera is equipped with a traditional viewfinder you definitely want to use it under sunny conditions as LCD screens are more difficult to see in direct sunlight, and it is much more difficult to judge what your photo is going to look like.
2. Look to the sky. Often it looks lighter near the horizon due to airborne pollution. It will look bluer slightly higher up, which makes for a more pleasing background for your photograph. Get in the habit of always trying to compose your shot in such a way that you are facing the bluest part of the sky whenever possible.
3. Buy a polarizing filter. These filters are relatively inexpensive and they can greatly improve your pictures. They are used most often to darken and increase contrast in light skies, but they also work to increase the overall saturation in colour images. They can also reduce or eliminate reflections on smooth surfaces.
4. Don’t be put off by a cloudy day. Sometimes light cloud cover is a photographer’s best friend! They work to bounce light and reflect it back onto the landscape. In areas of high contrast the clouds will help reflect a little more light back into the darker areas. The light reflected from clouds also creates more even lighting overall.
5. Use a reflector. If you are shooting directly towards the sun, a reflector will help cast light into shadows and prevent your subject from being under exposed.
6. Learn to spot meter. To do this, simply get close to the subject of your photo and meter for that area. This will cause that area to be perfectly exposed, thus clearly making it the subject of your photo. If you want to combat high contrast spot meter off a mid-tone area. This will create even exposure.
7. Don’t rule out using a flash. Although using a flash when shooting under bright, sunny conditions may not seem like a good idea, in some situations it is. Shooting towards the sun creates dramatic background effects, and using a fill flash will make it so your subject isn’t lost in the shadows.
8. Avoid lens flare. This can be done using a lens hood that fits on your camera, or you can use your hand or a piece of cardboard held over top of the lens.
9. Adjust white balance. Most digital cameras have built-in white balance settings, or you can adjust these settings digitally after the photo has been taken if you shoot in RAW mode. Do some experimenting to see what setting works the best for your photo.
10. When in doubt, bracket. That is, take one photo of your composition at the proper exposure. Then, take one shot overexposed and one shot underexposed. Often an “improperly” exposed shot turns out to be the best!
Keeping these tips in mind will drastically improve your skills for photographing in sunny climates. In addition, they can also be used in other situations where the light is challenging. Getting to know your camera and learning a few advanced techniques will have you consistently creating beautiful, high-quality photographs in no time!