Loretta McKenzie's Photography blog

Loretta McKenzie's Photography blog

My midday sun day taking pictures

I almost never photograph midday, I just prefer not to have to work with the harsh sun shadows and hot spots.  Sometimes you have to photograph outside midday.  It's your only chance, that day, to get your subject to cooperate.  A lot of activity, no naps, usually make for rough evenings. Look at the hot spots on the path around her feet, and her blown out skin on her arm. Not so nice.  It can also be your only chance to photograph someone or an event, there is no choice. Reflectors and diffusers work great to create shade. Taller people holding them over little people, and keeping those taller people out of the viewfinder, helps a lot.  I am almost always by myself, so it isn't so easy.  I use my speedlight to help and even out skin tone when I take pictures in the sun.  Today I didn't carry it around.  I also spot meter on the skin.  I found, in harsh sun, using my AE lock on skin, with spot metering helps me blow out the background and keep the subject nice.  Otherwise I get too many silhouettes.  Also, bright sun also makes things a bit too yellow for my taste, and I am always reducing yellow during post-processing.  With all that stuff said, it is so much easier to photograph right after sunrise (my favorite) or before sunset.  Sometimes, when you can, waiting for a cloudy day is the best!


I looked for a nice shady nook.  When I took the picture,  I kept my eye on the hot spots, trying to keep them out of the viewfinder as much as possible.  The trees have filled out a bit, so we found a shady spot that was narrow but pretty even.  I was in full sun taking this picture, she was not. I don't find this works well in winter or early spring. Too many leafless trees, hot spots galore. I also adjusted my white balance for shade. It is not the picture I or she wanted because we were very limited in this nook. I just wanted her skin evenly lit.


I also used myself in combination with shade to block the sunny hotspots from her skin and eyes.  


Personally, I like to use fences and textured structures that create shade and shoot close up with a very low aperture.  I love barns! To me, it is easier to keep sunny hot spots out of the viewfinder and adds some drama.  I used the sun to help light up her eyes naturally, and blocked it using myself, so it wouldn't bother her eyes so much. It wasn't easy getting her to stand in the right place.   The shade was very narrow. It is so much easier to take natural shots of her on cloudy days, early morning, or before sunset. She is happier, she can go wherever she wants. Then the natural shots are much easier.


Then wouldn't you know it, clouds came up abruptly and we got a nice picture using God's softbox, clouds!  I quickly got my camera.  It was locked in my car, we were at a festival when the clouds came out for a half hour or so.  We went to a place I knew the background wasn't distracting.  She flopped herself down with her balloon.  Now you know why I get so happy when the clouds come out and I get to take outside pictures!   Early morning doesn't last long enough.  Really, to me, that's the color I like and hot spots can be the easiest to work with.




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