Managing The Sun

May 24, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

 

In my last blog, I discussed why shooting on cloudy days isn’t always bad.  That’s really  trying to make the best out of a bad situation.   Fortunately, the sun has finally decided to make its appearance on a regular basis, so it’s time to manage the sun. 

 

Light is the key to good photography.  Anyone can take an OK picture no matter what the weather is.  But the difference between a good photo and a great photo is how you manage the light. 

 

The absolute best times to take dramatic photos is the hour or so after sunrise or the hour or so before sunset.  But does that mean all the rest of the day, you can’t take dramatic shots?  No, but you have to manage the sun and use it to your advantage. 

 

I think most everyone knows you can’t be too successful taking pictures into the sun.  So make sure the sun is always to your back or side.  The means you need to plan your shots.  I often survey a potential location by the route of the sun and that determines the time of day you will be most successful for that particular shot.  

 

A sunny, blue-sky day always works for your sweeping landscape shots.  Landscape shots can always be improved by taking the shots during the two “golden” hours I discussed above when there is potential for dramatic colors and lighting in the sky. 

Sunny Days Improve Any Landscape ShotA dramatic sunrise or sunset could improve this shot.

 

But on any sunny day you can use the sun to illuminate, highlight or create translucency, which also results in drama.  But harsh sunlight also creates some challenges, shadows and the potential over lighting that reduces both color and detail.

 

In a recent photo trip to Chicago Botanic Gardens, I have some great examples: 

 

Illuminating by direct sunlight: 

Direct sunlight to illuminateCreates great detail, but shadows have to be managed.

   Direct sunlight to illuminateBrings out detail and color.

Creating transparency: 
Highlighting to create interest: 
Using filtered light: 
 
There are many more examples of effectively using sunlight in my Spring at Chicago Botantic Gardens gallery.  Enjoy!
 

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