The golden hour is probably the time when most of us would choose to take photos. But, there will be times when you’ll be forced to shoot in a harsh midday sun, for one reason or the other. You can bring reflectors, strobes, or try to find or make a shade. But in this video, Manny Ortiz will give you some quick tips on how to embrace the direct sunlight and turn it into your advantage without any gear but your camera and lens.
Sure, the harsh afternoon sunlight is not a very flattering light, and many photographers will suggest that you can find a shadow or create it above the model’s face. However, this won’t always work for the composition and sometimes you just have to work with what you’ve got.
First of all, it’s all about positioning the face: have the model keep their chin up, towards the light. If there’s some shadow on the face, you don’t always have to fight it – embrace it instead, as it can add some drama and contrast to the shots.
Try different angles: shoot from high, low, change perspective and give yourself plenty of options. This will give you some unique shots and more options in the post-production.
Have the model keep their eyes closed to avoid squinting. Also, if the person is sensitive to the sunlight, this will make them feel more comfortable. Count “3, 2, 1” and when the model opens their eyes, take the shot. Of course, your subject can also keep the eyes closed, depending on your idea for the photos.
Finally, always remember to always expose for the highlights on the model’s face. It’s always easier to lift the shadows a little bit than to recover the blown out highlights on the skin.
Although a strobe or at least a reflector would make your life easier, there will be times when you won’t have any of them with you. So, use these tips as a guideline to help you shoot in the direct sunlight. Experiment, and turn that harsh light to your advantage.
[How to Photograph in HARSH light using NO FLASH or REFLECTORS | Manny Ortiz]