Most of the photographers avoid direct sunlight when taking outdoor portraits, especially if the Sun is the only light source. However, you can turn the harsh sunlight into your advantage, and use it as a key light. Jay P. Morgan picked up his camera to show us how to do it, and ended up with some interesting shots using only the light coming from the Sun.
Jay and his crew shot in Bombay Beach, CA. The subject is an astronaut in a reflective suit, and I just love the location with the abandoned cars, trailers and houses. Even though the light is a bit flat, there are some tricks to make it more appealing and make the shots more interesting.
Use the sun as your key light
Since the midday sun is harsh and bright, the most logical way to use it is as your key light. Position yourself so that the sun is behind you and lights your subject, but make sure that your shadow doesn’t get in the shot. You can use a reflector to bounce some of the light, either for toning down the shadows or adding a bit more dimension to your shot.
Use a tilt shift lens
Using a tilt-shift lens adds more depth in the shots, especially when you’re shooting in flat areas or surfaces. You can shift the plane of focus and add more depth to the shots. Of course, if you don’t own a tilt-shift lens, you can also achieve this effect in post-processing.
Experiment with angles
If you use the sunlight as the key light, the trick is to place it like you would any other key light. When it’s above and behind you, it will look like butterfly light. If it’s on the sides, it can work as a split light.
Other than fully lighting the subject with the sunlight, you can experiment with the shadows as well. This will add a bit of depth to the shot. You can light up the subject’s face with the reflector to open the face up a bit.
Also, you can even move the subject so the light’s behind them. This makes the silhouette shots, and it can also work great with the tilt-shift lens. Again, you can use the reflector to add some light on the front of the subject, which will add more dimension in the shot.
There will be situations when you’ll have to work with what you have. And if the sunlight is the only light source you have available, I hope these tips will help you use it to the max and get some amazing shots.
[Direct Sun Can Be a Great Key Light- Don’t Hide Inside! | The Slanted Lens]