6 Ways to Photograph Subjects in Harsh Midday Sun | Rangefinder

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In the early stages of my photography journey, I was legitimately scared that I would someday find myself in a situation where I would need to photograph a subject in harsh midday sun. The thought of it evoked images in my mind of “1-2-3-open,” squinting, scowling, and raccoon shadows under someone’s eyes instead of the soft backlight that I had grown to love. 

© Tyrie Mehaffey

As a wedding photographer in the real world, I cannot control the weather and the locations I am given. And that’s okay! Bad light does not exist; only misused light does. The good news is, you can create soft light, and even mimic golden hour, in bright, harsh, midday sun. Here’s 6 ways how to do it:

1. To create the backlit, halo look that is sought after during golden hour, I instruct my subject to face the direction of their shadow, so that the sun is behind them. If they look down at their feet, they should see their shadow in front of them. If the sun is quite directly overhead, the shadow will be small, but it will be cast in one direction nonetheless. 

The sun around their hair feels like golden hour.

2. Next, I ask the subject to rotate a bit in each direction until they hit the sweet spot of backlight coupled with soft, even light on the face. Notice how the light outlines their hair (above). Keep a close watch on any shadows and highlights on their faces.

I love the dreamy, ethereal feeling that the bright background creates. The mood of this image would be completely different later in the day with a darker background.

3. Even when shade from trees is available, I do not want the subject in the shade, because I want a more interesting photo. I love to place my couples in the sun spots, with the sun still behind them. The bokeh from the leaves catching the sun is yummy, and it will be a darker and warmer background than the sky.

Notice how they are facing their shadow and I (the photographer) am shooting toward it.

4. In terms of camera settings, I use spot metering mode. That means that instead of determining correct exposure based on the entire image, the meter is only reading one spot, where my focal point is. I aim for correct exposure on the subject’s face and don’t worry too much about the exposure of the background. Because I shoot in RAW, I can bring back detail to the brightest of skies.

Portraits were scheduled for the brightest time of day at this June wedding, but we still created soft, even light on their faces despite the harsh sun.

5. The use of a subtle vignette in post-processing brings the attention back to the subject and brings depth and detail back to bright areas in the background and foreground.

6. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, use light to tell a story! Direct sunshine conveys an exuberant, bright mood. As a wedding photographer, I am confronted with direct sun during the First Look sessions. The anticipation for the upcoming ceremony and excitement to see each other is coupled perfectly with the bright light of the beating sun!

Tyrie Mehaffey is a wedding photographer based in Wheaton, Illinois.

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This page was created programmatically, to read the article in its original location you can go to the link bellow:
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