Outdoor photography in sunny weather — 12 life hacks and a guide on the necessary equipment | Lesson | Photo, video, optics


Beginner photographers often avoid studios, afraid of the abundance of equipment and incomprehensible attachments, and choose the easiest way, as it seems to them, take a model and go to the nearest park. And they certainly choose good weather so that it is clear, warm, and it is pleasant and comfortable for all participants in the photo shoot to work. In fact, shooting on a sunny day is a test of skill even for an experienced photographer.

We share life hacks, as well as talk about the necessary equipment and common mistakes of beginners when shooting outdoors in sunny weather.

Shooting in the sun is a test and a good “pumping” for a novice photographer / pixabay.com

Shooting outdoors in the sun — life hacks and mistakes

1. Go into the shade. If there is an opportunity to go into the shade from the building or stand under the canopy of trees — use this. Also, don’t forget that you can create the shadow yourself! Even an ordinary blanket, stretched to cover the sun, can help with this. So you get soft light and you don’t have to think about how to put the model so that it doesn’t squint, and the shadows on the face from the hard sun lie beautifully.

2. Look for an angle! Shooting in sunny weather is complicated by the fact that hard light perfectly emphasizes all the imperfections of the skin. Because of this, you need to carefully monitor how the model and her skin turn out in the photo, whether the eyes are “hiding” in deep shadow.

It just seems like something incredibly complicated, but in fact the main thing is just to be attentive. Since the sun is a constant source of light, you immediately see how the shadows fall on the face. There is no reason to guess, as is the case with an external flash or pulsed light in the studio!

The model turned to the sun and raised her head — this is enough to get a beautiful black and white drawing / pixabay.com

3. An excellent alternative to the classic portrait is shooting against the sun, that is, silhouette photography. The client will remember an unusual frame. Especially if the silhouette of the model or models is easily recognizable. The main thing is not to make all the photos like this — this is an interesting technique that can quickly get boring. This is an accent, and there should not be many accents.

Photographing a silhouette is as easy as shelling pears — it is enough that the sun shines on the back of the model if you are photographing from the front, or to the side if you are photographing in profile / pixabay.com

4. Use lace fabrics, nets, trellises, plant branches to create unusual shadows. The bright sun is hard light. So it will give you beautiful textured shadows to use! To do this, simply stretch the lace fabric/raise the grille so that the sun shines on the model through it.

For example, as here: the light is directed at the model from the side of the fern, so shadows with a pattern from it appear on her face / Photo: Elizaveta Chechevitsa

5. Use reflections to highlight the model’s face. A light wall, clothes, drawing paper or a piece of light (preferably white) fabric will do. About how to work with a reflector and what they are, read in our text.

6. Choose a «gold watch». This is the time at sunset or dawn, when the sun is still shining or already weak. It is important to time the shoot correctly and not miss it, because depending on the weather and your geographic location, the “golden hour” can last much less. To do this, study the location in advance and measure the time the day before.

Shooting during the golden hour gives a soft, warm light and a nice backlight that illuminates the model’s hair / pixabay.com

7. Use exposure bracketing so that when shooting in the sun, both the model and the background are worked out. Exposure bracketing creates several frames of different brightness, which, when combined, allows you to make a picture without too dark a face or a blurry white background. As a result, you will get several shots of the same scene, but with different lighting, which can be combined in post-processing.

8. When setting up your camera, remember that closing the aperture (indicated by the letters and numbers f / 2.8, f / 16, etc.) is not always the best option. The larger the aperture number, the darker the frame and the less background blur. In such cases, you can forget about beautiful bokeh. To compensate for this, lower your ISO (referred to as ISO 100, ISO 800, etc.), slower shutter speeds, and negative exposure compensation if you’re not shooting in manual mode (M).

9. Fast shutter speeds will freeze motion! You can make spectacular shots with flying fabrics and water splashes. Sunny weather and summer just favor such shootings.

Water splashes are not blurry, in sharpness, thanks to the fast shutter speed when shooting. It is ideal for photographing people or animals in motion, and the bright sun will provide the necessary amount of light / pixabay.com

10. It is a mistake to place the model facing the sun. Because of him, she will squint. It is better to turn it with its back to the sun in order to catch a beautiful backlight — a luminous stroke along the contour of the model.

11. If you place the sun at the edge of the frame, you can catch a beautiful flare or flare, as well as lower the contrast of the photo. The latter will make it more tender.

12. Chromatic aberration may occur during shooting. These are colored borders on contrasting borders. For example, when shooting trees against a white sky, aberrations can appear along the contour of the branches. In this text, we tell you what they are, why they appear, how to avoid them and quickly remove them in post-processing.

How to take good pictures in bright sunlight — a necessary technique

1. Reflector. The reflector will help highlight the details that have gone into the shadows. Naturally, it seems that there is nothing easier than to turn the model towards the sun, but then it will start to squint. Especially if you are photographing at noon.

The reflector must also be handled with care. If you direct it directly to the face, to the eyes, then it will blind no worse than direct sunlight! To avoid this, direct it slightly to the side relative to the model.

Also pay attention to the color of the reflector. Gold will give a warmer light, silver will give a colder one. White in this case may be the most appropriate. Firstly, it will give a neutral color of light, and secondly, of the three, it is considered the weakest in terms of power.

2. Any external light. If there is no reflector or you don’t want to use it, but you can’t hide in the shade, use the light! External flash, monoblocks on accumulators.

Give preference to pulsed light — it is more powerful than constant, and the sun will not be able to interrupt it. Photo shoots with external light on the street in sunny weather can often be found in advertising — it looks stylish and bright. On the one hand, you have bright sunlight, a beautiful location, and on the other, additional light sources that can be placed as you like, with any attachments, to get any black and white pattern.

3. Diffuser. This is, in fact, a special white translucent fabric. If you pass sunlight through the diffuser so that the sun shines on the model through it, it will soften, making the shadows and highlights softer and more accurate. As a rule, it does not need to be bought in addition — it comes with reflectors. For example, if you have a 5 in 1 reflector, then the diffuser will definitely be there.

4. Synchronizer. Required if an external flash is placed separately from the camera. It is worn on the camera and allows you to use an external flash separately from the camera, placing it in any convenient place. This will give you more freedom, allow you to put the light in any place and at any height.

5. Hood. If you don’t want flare and low contrast photos, use a lens hood. It will protect the optics from sunlight and excess light.

6. Gradient filter. One half of it is darkened, and the other half is transparent. The transition from tinted glass to regular glass is smooth and gradual, hence the name. It will avoid overexposure in one of the parts of the frame. Most likely, it will not be suitable for shooting portraits, but it will prove useful in landscape and architectural photography.

7. Neutral gray filter. If you want beautiful background blur, but there’s too much light at wide open aperture, put an ND filter on your lens. It will reduce the amount of light that enters the lens.


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