Sun Sense

With Mother Nature bypassing spring and moving directly into summer, many shutterbugs have been able to get in some outdoor shots far sooner than expected.

Record high temperatures have been recorded from coast-to-coast this month, and there are no signs of a decline in sight. While the nice weather may have inspired you to document the first signs of spring or simply take some snaps of your child wearing a swimsuit in the middle of March, there are some factors you should keep in mind before pressing your camera’s shutter button:

Made in the Shade: The sun is the best source of natural light. However, when it is sitting directly overhead it can be a photographer’s worst enemy. It’s never a good idea to take photos at high noon, especially if you want to avoid harsh shadows and severe squinting. If you are forced to snap pictures in the mid-day sun, look for shade. Have your subject pose under a tree, an awning or in the shadow of a tall building. If you’re seeking shade under a tree, though, be warned, sometimes tree branches allow light to filter through causing your subject to look as though he has spots or stripes on his or her skin. If you find this happening to you, move your subject until he or she is completely in the shade before taking the picture.

Embrace Backlight: When shooting outdoors, you are at the mercy of Mother Nature. Sometimes you won’t be able to find shade. In those cases, the only way to salvage your shot is to use the sun as a backlight. To do so, position your subject so the sun is behind him, and then enable your camera’s flash. The flash should add just enough light to your subject’s faces to ensure he blends in with the natural light. If done correctly, you will be able to add a nice rim light effect around your subject and cause a halo effect around his hair.

Related Articles:

Shooting the Perfect Portrait

Telling A Story With Your Shots

Natural Framing

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.