Monday

different ways to shoot in direct sunlight


something i get asked a lot about is how to shoot in direct sunlight without a reflector or an extra light source. so i thought i'd put together a quick blog post with some image examples to give you ideas on how to position your model against the sun to achieve a certain look to your photos. i've noted the times in which the photos were taken, most of them range between 12pm - 6pm. between 12 and 2 is usually when australia has the harshest light of the day.

hopefully this blog post will inspire the thought that you can take beautiful photos in the middle of a sunny day, with nothing but natural light and your camera, and give you some ideas to try it too!


back-lit.

 shot at: 12.30pm

back-lit images are when the light source is behind your subject. by doing this, your photos will look dreamy and soft, this is one of my favourite ways of shooting! for a golden halo around your model, try diffusing the light behind some trees, a building or a cliff.

shot at: 3pm

 shot at: 1.30pm


direct sunlight

shot at: 4.30pm

when shooting in direct sunlight, position yourself to have your back to the sun, and the sun shining directly to the model's face. this lighting creates a more dramatic look to your photos. the shadows are deeper, the colours are more vibrant and the background is more prominent. 

shooting with direct sunlight at the beginning of the day produces more striking images, with more contrast as you can see from the two photos shot at 1 and 2 pm. the later in the day you shoot, the softer the light becomes as you can see in the photos taken at 4.30 and 6pm.

shot at: 1pm

shot at: 6pm

shot at: 2pm


in the shadows

shot at: 12pm

another option when shooting in the middle of a sunny day, is to shoot in the shadows of a building, fence or tree. the shadows will give your image a nice dark balance, with light still bouncing back onto your model's face from the bright day. 

shot at: 1.30pm


side light

shot at: 12pm

one last way i work with bright sunlight, is to use it as a side light. this gives you a little bit of both worlds; back-lit and direct light shooting! the images are halfway in between soft and dreamy as well as harsh and deep.

shot at: 11.40am

shot at: 5.30pm


39 comments:

  1. this was so helpful, thank you so much!
    i'm always happy when amazing photographers share tips like these.

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  2. Thank you for this, it's very helpful and very interesting :)

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  3. Really well written there Julia.. love shooting natural light.

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  4. Oh great!! Thank you for this interesting post!!

    xx Marina

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  5. Love this post. I am always looking for photography tips.

    http://in-ternal.blogspot.co.uk

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  6. Helpful post. I'll probably kill myself anyway. Gotta love the Hawaiian sun. :P Always out... bright blue sky. Ack...

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  7. this is a wonderful post! and it'll be so helpful to a lot of people out there.

    I think it's great how you can photograph so well in any kind of light. I think it's so hard to shoot in direct sunlight. I mostly only do it when the sun is about to go down. Because at noon or 3pm the light is just too harsh and it's also so difficult for my models to keep their eyes open...
    so i just think it's so awesome that you shoot in so many different kinds of lights! and it inspires me to step out of my comfort zone (shooting in shadows or at sunset) and try something different and more challenging :)

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    1. thank you! glad you found it helpful :) yes you should definitely go for it and try something different, you might be surprised with the results!

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  8. You shoot in bright sun light better than any other photographer I have seen Julia! Stunning work, AS ALWAYS!! :D

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  9. Some wonderful tips, thanks for sharing xx stunning photos btw !

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  10. This was great! Thanks so much! Your photos are so beautiful and you are the best at working different types of light!

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  11. Loved this!! Thanks so much.

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  12. Great.. now I can't wait to try your suggestions!!! Thank you very much!!!

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  13. Thank you so much for your advices and explanations ! Great pictures!

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  14. I could hardly read your entry, I was so busy admiring your photography and talent!

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  15. This post was supposed to teach us how to shoot in direct sunlight without a reflector or an extra light source, but I still have no idea what were the tips. Every time I've tried backlit photography without reflectors, it ended up with people having very shadow-y faces. I hoped to learned some tips from here to fix that mistake.

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    1. sorry, i should have been more clear in my wording, i meant this blog post more of as an idea of how you can work with natural sunlight. with backlit images, i mentioned that you could also try diffusing the sun with some trees or something else in the background, which will make everything look a little more even in lighting! shooting in raw rather than jpeg will also make a big difference with how the light looks in your images, also if you can't shoot to expose a section of the image right, you can fix that with raw images :) hope that helps!

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    2. If you're shooting with the sun behind the model and their face is too dark then you need to expose properly for the model's face instead of the background. The background will be more washed out, but the model will be exposed properly. And as Julia said if you shoot raw it will be easier to correct later on if you so desire.

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  16. Wow this is amazing, will kill this in mind!

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  17. big thanks to you Julia!!! you helped me a lot!

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  18. glad you all found this helpful! x

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  19. You are so lovely Julia and I just adore your work <3. It makes me so happy to have other photographers to admire that only use natural light. I have been argued with by many (elitist) photographers before on how if you want to be taken seriously as a photographer you have to use artificial lighting or it just doesn't look proper. I never have agreed with that, and your work is a great example of that as well =).

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    1. i definitely don't agree with that, you can create just as - if not more - magical photos with just natural light. in my opinion, there is no "right" and "wrong" way to do things in photography really, no photographer should be saying that you can't make it without using artificial light, that makes no sense! and thank you so much, i'm glad you liked this blog post and thank you for answering that other anon's questions too!

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    2. I agree 100% with you guys!! I am so so sick and tired of people telling me how to shoot my images, I shoot in entirely natural lighting if I'm shooting outdoors as well, it's definitely what I prefer, and Julia your work is proof that natural light is beautiful :)

      Wondering though, what sort of lighting will you use if you shoot indoors? For example, your age of intimacy images you worked on a while ago were stunning and the lighting was perfect!

      Anywho, sending <3 from NZ :)

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  20. Thanks for sharing! You're my fav photographer! :)

    xox

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  21. Julia, I must say,
    I first saw your work when you where on Deviant Art just beginning out and my have you grown. I thought your work back then was awesome but now it is just truly stunning. I know you do not know me, but I would just like to let you know that I am proud to have seen your work grow into something amazing which I know will continue to become something extraordinary. I wish you all the best for your future in pursuing a career in photography.

    X

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  22. this was so helpful! i usually avoid shooting in direct sunlight, mainly because i don't have any idea how to make it look half as impressive as you do. so i found this very insightful, and i might try and experiment with shooting in direct sunlight now. thanks! and thank you for your awesome curves. AMAZING.

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  23. I will definitely try this tomorrow! Thanks Julia

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