Sunday, September 16, 2012

Series on the Sun ~ Part 1

My initial plan was to put all of this on one photograph to post on my facebook fan page, HOWEVER, there was just too much information.  I also really want to cover several topics regarding the sun, so it is easiest to do it here.

How many times have you gone out to take some photos and they just come out awful?  Whether you are shooting nature, travel sights, or people... it is so important to take into account the sun, it's location, and it's intensity.

Ideally, in a perfect world, the only time photographers should be out taking photos is early in the morning or in the early evening.  This time period is called the "Golden Hour."  It is basically the hour just after sunrise and the hour just before sunset.  For those photographers who are more recreational, it is not something that needs to be followed so strictly, however, the closer it gets to the middle of the day, the more your photos will be washed out and devoid of color.

I have been surveying our local area looking for places to take landscape shots once Fall is in peak color.  Doing so has had me looking a little more closely at the leaves and how the sun affects them in photographs.  When you are photographing people, you can move them to a place that is more pleasing with the outdoor light available.  When you are photographing in nature, you don't really have this option.  You can't ask the tree to walk ten feet to the left or turn around to be in better natural light.  So you have to be creative in your methods to get a nice shot.

The first step is to make sure you have a nice low and mellow sun.  If you shoot during the middle of the day, I guarantee you will not get the vibrancy and color that you will if you shoot early in the morning or just before sunset.  The next step is to see what the sunlight is doing to your subject.  Where are the shadows lying.  Move around, look higher, bend down and look lower.  Try to think outside the box.  And then the final step is to compose your photo.  Don't be afraid to experiment and try different angles and compositions.

The following three photos were taken at the same time (around 9am), in the same location, from the same bunch of leaves.  The only thing that changed was where I was standing and how I was directing the camera.

This first photo was taken in the shade.  There is no vibrancy, the color is dull, there are no shadows so there is also no interest or depth.  The sun is behind me.
ISO 100 ~ 105mm ~ f/5.6 ~ 1/80 sec
© Corrie M Avila

This next photo was taken where I was behind the leaves and the sun is in front of me.  Here you can see more depth and shadows on the leaves, however because I was pointing the camera in the direction of the sun, the photo is washed out and dull.  Unless this is a particular effect you are going after, the photo ends up missing its mark.
IS0 100 ~ 75 mm ~ f/5.6 ~ 1/320
© Corrie M Avila 

 This final photo was taken in the same spot as the one directly above, only I moved the camera so it was not pointing directly towards the sun.  As you can see here, the color on the leaves is a vibrant green, the shadows are interesting and effective, and there is pleasant bokeh in the background.
ISO 100 ~ 105 mm ~ f/9.0 ~ 1/160 sec
© Corrie M Avila

Particularly with leaves and flowers, I have found that when you shoot from behind them, with the sun in front of you, they radiate color and life.  Try it out and see what you come up with!

Happy Shooting!


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