A Mobiographer’s Journey From Analog to iPhone
A couple of years ago, mobiographer Erica “Spin” Simas moved…
There’s a rule of thumb which says never to take photos in direct sunlight. That’s just a rule of thumb, though. It’s not a commandment! It’s perfectly possible to shoot in direct sunlight once you understand what’s tricky about it and how to get around it.
Direct sunlight is discouraged because it can overshadow the rest of your photo in an instant. The positioning of the sun, its brightness, and possible lens flare may get in the way of an otherwise great image. However, there’s a few ways to make shooting in direct sunlight work for you.
Try all three, and let us know how it works for you in the comments below!
When including the sun in a photograph, you may tend to place the sun in the middle of the frame. However, it’s possible that you’ll end up with a blob of light at the heart of your image, with the beauty of the scene covered by blinding light.
When shooting, think about composition. Use the grid that divides your photo into even squares or rectangles, depending on the aspect ratio. Pay attention to the four squares or rectangles in each of the four corners of the frame. Then, place the sun in one of these squares or rectangles to balance the image so that the sun won’t take over your entire photo. Additionally, try moving around, crouching down to one side, or even climbing up high and shooting down. Often, one angle will ruin the scene, while another angle will totally work for you!
What direct sunlight often does is dramatically increase contrast. There’s little reason to continue adding contrast, and you may actually need to reduce it a little. On the other hand, depending on your angle, direct sunlight introduces too much or too little brightness to the photograph. Search for the right amount of brightness in your edits to not have a photograph that’s overly bright or dark.
Furthermore, increasing saturation is helpful to bring life to the objects in your photograph. More saturation adds color intensity which gives the objects prominence in the image. As the other components gain center stage, it’ll decrease chances that the sun is taking over. In Enlight, you can go to Image > Adjust > Tools tab and experiment with Basic and Color tools.
Lens flare is when sunlight is scattered across a photograph. This is regularly avoided by those who don’t want their original image impacted in any way. Although lens flare brings with it additional lighting, streaks, or spots, it doesn’t necessarily change the image for the worse. In fact, flare can add artistic “flair”, and add a magical, ethereal or romantic effect over a scene. It may help to convey the time of day and what the photographer was feeling when shooting, like in this image below.
So while photographing in direct sunlight, it’s worth playing with angles to have just the right type of lens flare for an extra hint of magic. When you do discover lens flare in hindsight, don’t delete it too quickly. A bit of creative post-processing can do wonders.
Growing out of your comfort zone as a mobile photographer is a good thing. Next time you’re out capturing a sunset or catching the sun in between mountain tops, consider shooting off the beaten track! You’ll experience how direct sunlight can present an opportunity, rather than an obstacle, for stunning images.