Shooting in Direct Sunlight

 

 

Sunlight can be a photographer’s best friend since it is a natural light source that can illuminate your subject in several different ways, free of cost. Knowing how to use sunlight to get an intended effect is part of the tricks of the trade. Many people prefer to shoot on a bright but cloudy day when the scene is adequately lit but the intensity of the light is just enough not to cause any harsh and strong shadows. There are other times, however, when you just can’t wait for the clouds to come and you have to shoot in direct sunlight.

Direct sunlight can negatively impact the shot. It can cause blown out highlights, hard shadows, chromatic aberration, lens flare and oversaturated colors. These are quite a lot of issues that we have to consider but there are simple ways to counter the problems we might face when shooting in the bright light of day.

Shoot in the shade – If you’re shooting a person or a portable object, transfer to the shade.  Be prepared and bring an umbrella or a sheet of cloth in case there is no shade nearby. This also drastically lessens the chances of the subject to squint from the sun’s glare. A photo of a person squinting will not look so good.

Use fill flash – direct sunlight behind a subject will darken the foreground. By using a flash to illuminate it, you can make sure that the subject’s features will be more visible. Adjust the intensity of the flash to a setting less than its regular output so that the lighting will appear more natural rather than as if the subject was caught by a car’s headlights.

Change the perspective – just moving your camera at a different angle can cut down on glare caused by the sun. Move around your subject; play around with different camera viewpoints until you are satisfied with the composition as well as the lighting.

 

polarized 1024x768 Shooting in Direct SunlightUse a filter – a polarized filter can mean a world of difference when shooting in bright sunlight. It cuts atmospheric haze and darkens scenes that looked washed out by the glare. Colors come out more vibrant with less blown out areas. If you don’t have a polarizer, you can improvise by using a pair of polarized sunglasses instead. This photo shows the outcome of using the sun shades with polarized lens. The upper left portion that hasn’t been included in the glasses’ frame looks very different from the area which the lens covers.

Use a lens hood – lens hoods are pretty basic accessories but they do help a lot in shielding the lens from the sun’s harsh glare. A lens hood lessens the possibility of lens flare and chromatic aberration.

Use a diffuser – a simple diffuser such as a white sheet or foam board can soften the intensity of the harsh light. This creates a more even lighting for your subject and reduces areas that might become over or underexposed without the diffuser.

Turn your subject into a silhouette – If your subject appears too dark because of the sun hitting it directly from behind, and you choose not to or are not able to use a fill flash, then turn your subject into a silhouette instead. Lines, shapes and textures become prominent as well as the mood of a scene can become more dramatic. Ships sailing on bright empty seas, trees swaying in the heat of the sun, people frolicking on the shore, these and many more would make fantastic silhouette shots.

 


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The Magic of Night Photography

Have you ever looked at your surroundings at night and thought to yourself that it is very beautiful? The city lights look like stars, the car lights on the road zoom by like ribbons of red and white and shop signs are all lit up in neon colors. The night scene exudes moods that vanish with the light of day. It can be magical, mystical, vibrant, or ominous, among many other things and you want to capture it forever in a photograph. You are certainly capable of taking great night shots, especially after learning some quick techniques. But check your digital camera first and find out if its settings can adequately capturing night scenes.

IMG 7416 300x200 The Magic of Night Photography Copy of Sep sunset 25 300x200 The Magic of Night Photography

 

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Shooting Flowers

Flower photos are flourishing in the world of photography. Flowers make great subjects since they are naturally pretty, full of interesting details, and as a bonus, some of them smell really good as you are composing them in the frame.

There are a few things to consider when you are shooting flowers:

flower 1024x833 Shooting FlowersLighting – flowers are quite delicate so avoid harsh lighting like direct sunlight which can erase tiny details such as the texture of the petals. Leaves and shiny petals can also reflect the sun which can cause overexposure. If you are shooting outdoors, cloudy or overcast days are preferable. If there is no cloud in sight, use some sort of light filter instead to diffuse the sun's strong rays. A thin white sheet can be sufficient although you will need assistance to hold it up while you are taking pictures. With studio lights, you have control over how the flower will be lighted. You can play around with intensity and positions where the light is coming from, such as sidelighting or backlighting.

Focus – flowers in their natural state are often surrounded by leaves and other flowers. They can be a great distraction since they will also fight for attention. A quick solution is to adjust your aperture to control the depth of field. A big aperture (small stop number) such as f/2.8 can keep focus on the flower while blurring away the background. This will also give the image some dimension.

Color – It comes as no surprise that some colors are named after flowers, such as carnation pink, orchid, cornflower blue, and lavender. Colors convey emotions and can create mood. Flowers can embody these emotions, which is why we connote red roses to love and yellow ones might symbolize friendship. Aside from possible meanings, the colors of flower petals are simply stunning to look at. Hues can range from a deep solid red to a very light yellow. The colors can be solid or a blend of shades. Color can make a flower look striking.

Flower Variety – there are thousands of flower varieties and they all bloom in different shapes and sizes, some prettier and some stranger looking than the others. From the ever popular roses to the more exotic orchids, you will not run out of options to choose from as your subject.

Arrangement – A single bud on a thin vase, a bouquet tied with a bright ribbon, or a vast field of flowers; these are just three ways to show off the beauty of flowers. You can present them as a still life composition or rooted in soil in their natural environment.

Macro – if you look closely, flowers are full of details up to the tiniest pistil. Some petals have intricate patterns while others have fascinating textures. Macro shots bring out those features that can easily be overlooked.

Taking pictures of flowers is an enjoyable process which you can actually make money out of. You may sell them as stock photos since a lot of clients look for flower photos to use as backgrounds, wallpaper, or magazine covers. Since they are very popular, it is easy for a flower image to appear cliché so this is where your creativity comes in.


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How to Photograph Leaves

One of the most versatile subjects you can find is a leaf. There are thousands of different kinds of leaves. If the saying is 'no two snowflakes are alike' then I would also argue that no two leaves are alike. Not only do they differ in family but also in shape, color, texture, pattern and size. Each leaf of the same plant is distinctive which just goes to show the intricacies of nature.

goldenleaf 300x224 How to Photograph Leaves

Leaves are easily accessible. They can be found almost everywhere you look, from the ones in the garden to the produce section in the grocery.

Your subject may be just a singular leaf, it may also be a pile of leaves. It can be in its natural state hanging at the end of a plant stem in a field, it might also have fallen and drifted to the edge of a concrete sidewalk. The possibilities of capturing stunning leaf shots are only limited by your creativity and skills as a photographer.

Did you know that leaf shots make great stock photos? Some clients buy them because they can be the perfect background for a magazine cover or a blog template, others buy them purely because they look interesting. You can upload hundreds of leaf shots to your online portfolio and each one would be unique and a possible sale.

The question is how do you make each shot interesting? Sure, the leaf itself is one of a kind but if your shot is uninspired, it will be obvious and your good shots will be buried under your mediocre ones.

Here's what you can do to spice things up:

Highlight its best feature. What is it about the leaf that makes it so special? Is it the strange patterns or the large veins? Maybe it is the color? If so, play around with the lighting to show it off. With this photo, I used the backlighting technique to further enhance the golden color of the leaf. A simple black background was used to add contrast to the gold hues. The lighting method also brought attention to the fascinating vein patterns.

Add 'props' such as water drops. Yes, dew or water droplets on a leaf would be considered a 'cliché' shot but if it does make your shot more interesting then why not. Try to surprise the viewer by going one step further such as overdoing the number of droplets such as in this leaf shot. The droplets make wonderful patterns and you might notice that they also magnify the details of the leaf which add to its 'interestingness'.

Do something to the leaf itself. Capture it as it is burning, cut it into strips, write on it, tear it, bend it, fold it, weave it, roll it, freeze it, dry it out in the sun, press it, wrap it around something. The shots you take after doing any of this are bound to be attention-grabbing. Of course, still keep the basic photography principles in mind or else you might end up with a very unappealing shot of some green mush that barely looks like a leaf.

Close up and macro shots are often used for leaf shot but it really depends on how you compose the shot. Depth of field can provide focus on only a few leaves while keeping the other leaves blurred and therefore less distracting in the background. The more you shoot leaves, the easier it will become for you to know how to show its uniqueness.


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