Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to look at it more closely. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out on a blanket under a summer sky...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. We'll explore the night sky, location shoots, using off camera speedlights along with nature and landscape. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

Eclipse 2017

Eclipse 2017
Eclipse 2017

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Shoot Into The Sun

Being able to see light as the camera sees it is essential for the photographer. Our eyes are amazing organs in
that they have a tremendous range of visual acuity. They are in effect adaptable to wide ranges of lighting conditions. We can easily distinguish between subtle differences of tonal values and details. Even in dark areas, out eyes can extract detail. The camera however is less adaptable and is very direct in its interpretation of light. That is why it is so important for the aspiring photographer to learn to see light based on how the camera reacts to it and let go of his visual sense when it comes to capturing amazingly lit photographs.

Most photographers who have been chasing light for any length of time at all understands that shooting in the middle of the day in bright sunlight is not nearly as effective as shooting during those golden hours of the day; before and just after sunrise, just before and just after sunset. We tend to shy away from shooting in the middle of the day and for good reason most of the time, but, shooting in the middle of the day is not so bad as long as you understand how to use the light at those times to your advantage.

Sometimes I will thumb through all the old family photographs taken with one of those Kodak Brownie cameras way back in the 1950's . In almost all of them we kids were captured with severely squinting eyes as we were positioned so the sun was in our faces. The pictures sufferd with harsh and deep shadows along with unnatural looking expressions. Our parents were victims of their photographic upbringing when ISO's (ASA back then) were low and you litteraly had to stand out in the sun to get an exposure that wasn't too dark. We, however have no such excuses as todays SLR digital cameras provide us with tremendous light gathering capabilites.


Consequently, we can shoot just about anywhere and anytime without worrying so much about how much light there is...somewhat anyway. The best light of course occurs during those golden hours, but you can effectively shoot in the middle of a bright sunny day by doing one simple thing...well, three really. 

First of all place your subject so the sun is behind them and their face is in shadow. This will by itself create those great hair highlights and also will create a rim light around your subject. Next, boost your exposure compensation, that +/- button, up to around +1 or even +2. You can also use something to reflect light like a commercial reflector, foam board, or even a newspaper, into your subjects face, but that is not always practical to do. Don't worry about the background exposure...you want to expose for the face. Let the background fall where it may. This will often serve to isolate your subject and create that dreamy washed look. You can also look for somekind of dark background which will also serve to isolate your subject and to enhance the highlights from the backlight.


Another thing you can do is to throw some fill light into your subject by using either an external speedlight (flash), or simply use the popup flash on your camera. An external flash gives you more control of the light's strength and direction, but the popup will effectively illuminate the face. 

Don't be afraid to shoot into the sun. By using it as giant backlight, you can create some amazing images.




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