Tips for taking photos in bright sunlight

Now that summer is here we can look forward to some lovely long, hot days with plenty of sunshine. Gorgeous! But although bright sunlight lifts our spirits and feels so good for us in many ways, it can cause its own special problems for photography. So how can we make the best use of the summer sunshine?

When the sun is directly overhead, it’s quite unflattering to most photographic subjects, as it creates harsh contrast between light and shadow without revealing any shape or form. Try to do your photography early or late in the day, when the sun is lower in the sky. This can give a lovely three dimensional effect in a photograph, especially when the light is coming from the side, as it lights one side of a subject while the other side falls into shadow. With landscapes this will generally be a bonus; with portraits or close ups you may want to use a reflector or fill in flash to lighten the shadowed side.

Beware of flare on bright days – this is caused when the sun falls on the front element of your lens, and results in image degradation. To avoid this, use a lens hood, shade your lens with your hand, or position yourself so that you’re standing in the shade to take the photo.

One other important thing to bear in mind is the effect of bright sunlight on colour. Soft, pastel colours will tend to appear washed out in harsh light – see my blog on 20 June. So look instead for saturated colours which can benefit from the brighter light to bring out their full impact. Vibrant, saturated colours can appear at their strongest in sunlight, and you can increase the impact by using a polarising filter to saturate the colours even more. For maximum polarisation, try to position yourself so that the sun is coming from the side



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