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Partha Sarathi Bhowal
A passionate explorer from the bottom of my heart loving every moment of life
Published: Oct 31, 2018 | 41 Views

16 tips for brilliant sunny day photography


We are sure you have been out and about taking photographs of various exotic spots on a sunny day. However, you most likely have noticed that shooting in the broad daylight is tough–dark shadows, blinding highlights, portraits with unsightly contrasts, and of course the everlasting question “can you shoot facing the sun?”–make sunny days an unexpectedly challenging mission. This article throws light on this sunny problem so that you can make the most of your photo potential. If you are an superior photographer, we hope you will still find some tips useful.

1. Subject with relevance to background

Sunny days produce insensitive contrasts making it easy to practice a very important photography technique of subject and the background. In order for your photograph to be effortlessly perceived by the viewers, you should strive to place your subject (e.g. human beings, natural things like trees and rocks, architectural details, etc.) against a contrasting background. On a sunny day, look for brilliantly lit branches against dark buildings, or pedestrians dressed in dark clothing against the light gray of the pavement.

2. Black & White photography- have a look

Shooting in black and white on a sunny day can be an thrilling way to experiment with shapes, contrasts, and negative space. By eliminating colour, you can create bleak images, especially in an urban setting.

3. Shadows- think of the same

Sunny days bring well marked shadows. Find some funky-looking shadows between the afternoon and the golden hour. At this time of the day, the shadows are getting longer but they are still well evident.


4. High-speed Photography- the essentials

Sunny days are ideal for having fun with fast shutter speeds like 1/4000 of a second. Head to nearby fountain for a rapid practice.

5. Take portraits in the light shade making it more memorable

Unless you are going for a severe contrast intentionally, you probably want to avoid shadows on your model’s face. Find semi-transparent tree shade and sunlight reflected windows.

6. HDR-High Dynamic Range Imaging to capture your moments

Our eyes can see a lot of difference between light and dark. Our cameras–not so much. HDR is a photography technique, where several photographs (typically three) — underexposed, medium, and overexposed — are clicked and overlayed in photo editing software. Variety of phones also can take several photographs on the fly, and overlay them, too. By utilizing HDR, you will be able to enhance the dynamic range (range from darkest to brightest) on your photograph.

7. Make the sun a star! Guess the magic

Make the Sun a star that it is by escalating your aperture. As you may remember from this post, high aperture (f /11 and up) initiates starburst appearance of lights. Likewise, you can make the Sun appear like a star rather than a shapeless blob of light. And yes very much, you can shoot against the Sun with digital cameras.


8. Neutral Density filter & long exposure- the two important parameters

You can make unusual effects by taking long exposures on a sunny day. All you need is a neutral density filter, which hinders sunlight allowing you to take photographs at slow shutter speeds. Think of fountains, waterfalls, or pedestrian traffic movement shots.

9. Polarizing filter to make moments more real

You can get better with your photographs by removing glare and unwanted reflections using the polarizing filter. It can make a huge difference in helping you with vitality of your photographs.

10. Lens hood- one of the most prime factors

And remember the hood for your lens! It will eliminate unwanted sun beaming making the way into your shot.

11. Reduce The ISO

This is the understandable one. If you know the exposure triangle in depth, then you will know that you will almost surely have to be shooting at a low ISO – probably in the range of 50 or 100. The good part of this is that this will also lead to a decrease in noise for your image.

12. Learn the Sunny F16 Rule which is imperative

This is a guideline that more or less can tell your decisions on your camera settings. The basic rule is that shooting in harsh sun, if you set your camera to ISO 100, f/16 and 1/100th sec shutter speed, you will get a logical exposure.

Now, no set rule like this is going to be appropriate in every single situation, so you will probably need to change one or two elements of that setup for your own situation, but it is a sensible place to start. Just be sure to know your exposure triangle and how it influences the various outcomes in your photograph.

13. Watch Your Histogram Like a Hawk to remove errors

In shooting in any insensitive conditions, you are going to want to really know how to read a histogram on your camera.

In the case of shooting in the midday sun, you will want to be particularly wary of losing details in the highlights. (The edges of clouds can be especially difficult here). Remember, that if your histogram is geared up against the right side of the graph, then you have blown out your highlights (meaning those pixels are pure white and you won't be able to do much with them in post production).

Ideally, you will desire for a bell shaped histogram (maybe slanted slightly to the right in positive situations).

There are very few (no?) situation where you want your histogram stacked to either the right or the left. This means lost details in the highlights or shadows which is almost impossible to recuperate in post production.

14. Strongly use a Polarizing Filter

When shooting outside in harsh light, and looking at your histogram, you will soon understand that stopping your histogram from going up against the right of the graph is very very difficult in such a situation.

Certain parts of a photograph such as clouds, water reflections and reflections off glass will almost certainly create a shooting situation in which you get blown out highlights.

One remedy that is frequent to outdoor shooters is to always take a CPL with you (circular polarising filter). In addition to saturating the blues in the sky, a CPL will reduce the glare significantly. This means less of those blown highlights.

15. Use a Neutral Density Filter

If you are shooting in harsh light and you are still getting blown highlights with a CPL, then you might want to also use a Neutral Density Filter (ND). (These can be utilized with or without a CPL).

NDs come in a variety of strengths and are basically a dark piece of glass that dims the light coming into the camera.

Some are so strapping, that you can actually take long exposure photographs in the middle of the day!

16. Try to Diffuse the Light for People Shots in particular

Taking photographs of people in the midday sun is very hard for a variety of reasons. Primary among these reasons is that harsh light, such as that produced by the midday sun, produces tremendously harsh shadows. Harsh shadows, when they fall across a person's face, usually look awful.

Usually the problem is solved by using diffuser “diffuser” which is basically a stretched white piece of cloth placed between the light source (sun) and the model.


In such a situation, you're almost always going to have to use a diffuser to alleviate the light for your people shots.

When it comes down to it, making high-quality images in the midday sun comes down to understanding light and being able to adjust for the specific shooting situation that you find yourself in.

The tips in this article will certainly get you started with getting improved images in the middle of the day and may even do the lion's share of the work. But you will find yourself not good enough to go further (and there are a lot more things that you can know about light).

Midday is one of the most hard times to shoot for any photographer. The brutal truth is that cameras struggle with the great light and photographers struggle with making that harsh light result in a pleasing image. That being said, during your photography career, you are almost certainly going to find yourself in a situation in which you will be required to shoot in the middle of the day. This article will help you with where to start when that day comes.

Also remember the preferred settings:

Softened Shadows to f/11
Put Overcast, Slight or No Shadows to f/8
Put Bright Shade to f/5.6
Put Dark Shade to f/4.0
Put Twilight to f/2.8

Remember, it’s advisable, in the old days, they didn’t have light meters, they didn’t have automatic cameras. [Photographers] would literally have to find out what that light setting was by looking at the clouds or the sun or whatever.

Let that hard-earned knowledge from those days be gone determining your settings today and then only you will flourish as a good photographer.

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Partha Sarathi Bhowal

A passionate explorer from the bottom of my heart loving every moment of life
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