Best Camera Settings For Sunny Outdoors

By | 17/10/2022

Don’t be put off photographing in bright sunlight

Low-cal is at the center of every photo. Without calorie-free there can be no photo, so photographers need to observe ways to utilise, manipulate, create or block the light. Working with too much light is as much of a challenge as working with too little calorie-free.

Photographing in brilliant sunlight tin can yield stunning results, if yous know the tricks of harsh sunlight photography.

Direct sunlight often feels like also much light.

However, when information technology’s at present or never and you can’t cull a better time to photograph, merely the light is hard, high in the sky and casting horrible shadows, you tin still get great photos.

Yous just take to think a little harder, perhaps look effectually at your options and get a little more than artistic.

How to photography confidently in direct sunlight

Further reading: How to use the sunny 16 rule for quick exposure settings outdoors

This cheatsheet volition help you lot with camera settings for photographing in bright sunlight…

Ideally, when photographing outdoors, we’d just stick to the all-time times of day, the gilt 60 minutes, or the blue hr, and be happy with that. Only if you’re:

  • Photographing a wedding, you generally don’t get a say in when the happy couple sally from the church building
  • On holiday somewhere, y’all tin’t not visit the attractions, but considering it’southward a bright sunny day
  • What well-nigh a embankment vacation? You lot can’t not photograph the kids for most of the day, just because the light isn’t perfect for you

Luckily, if yous’re on safari in Africa, nigh wild fauna would concord with you that the start and end of the day are the best times to be out and about. The African sun is potent and you might non be used to photographing in harsh direct sunlight. (I had the reverse problem – I struggled to adjust to the Britain’s very soft low-cal when I outset moved here from Due south Africa.)

Further reading:

Aureate hr photography – when is it and why is information technology so astonishing?

Blueish hr photography tips and tricks for creative photos

vii tips for outdoor photography in brilliant sunlight

These tips volition help you cover photographing at any time of day. The first three tips are about avoiding photographing in hard light. Tips 4 – 7 are about embracing photographing in brilliant sunlight and using it to your advantage.

  1. Find shade
  2. Use doorways
  3. Create shade
  4. Reflect the light
  5. Create some lite
  6. Shoot into the dominicus
  7. Employ the angle of the low-cal

1. Find shade on brilliant sunny days

I know – a bit obvious, but not all shade is created equal.

Your platonic shade is solid shade from a edifice or a tree with thick foliage, not the dappled kind of shade that you can become under a not and then leafy tree. While dappled light is great for camouflage, it’south not a photographer’south friend as your bailiwick volition be patchy.

If you position your subjects under a tree, face them out to the lite, with the tree behind them. This is chosen open shade… because it’s open. Think, light is still hitting the scene, even if it has been diffused past the tree, and the direction of the light still makes a difference.

Further reading: Open shade photography the right style – avoid rookie mistakes

Man with harsh shadows caused by direct sunlight

These photos were taken 30 seconds autonomously at 11.26 on a very sunny day. To a higher place, the brilliant sunlight fabricated him screw up his eyes and it cast the harsh shadows across his face up.

Below, he moved a meter back into the shade of the wooden shelter, so no harsh shadows. All the same, I similar the texture of the woods brought out by the direct sunlight skimming across it in the above photo. Information technology’s bully for wood, but not faces.

Man in open shade on a sunny day

2. Employ doorways when the sun is harsh

This doesn’t have to be an actual doorway to a house. The entrance to a tunnel, an archway, just inside a barn door, or fifty-fifty inside a machine all work really well for photography. Basically, anywhere that has a roof overhead, like in the photo above.

Indirect low-cal spilling in from exterior volition illuminate your subject beautifully. I say indirect, because if sunlight is pouring into the doorway and onto your subject, the calorie-free will yet exist harsh. If, however, the doorway is in shade, the light that filters in will be soft and perfect for portraiture.

Position your discipline just within the doorway facing out and photograph them from the exterior. This is some other example of open up shade. The reward of doing this is that you lot cut out the bright sunlight coming from directly above them, and so they won’t have “racoon eyes”.

3. Create your ain shade

For the times that you don’t have a convenient edifice or tree on a bright sunny solar day, try to create shade.

If you’re on the beach with surfboards, you could incorporate the surfboards into the shot in a way that creates shade. For example, if your subject field holds a surfboard to a higher place their head it creates a handy bit of shade over their face. A beach umbrella would be great too – only exist enlightened of the colors as they will reflect onto your subject.

Or yous could bring a foldable diffuser with you so that you lot tin can block the sunlight from hitting your subject field directly, which is what I do.

Further reading on diffusers and reflectors

4. Reflect the sunlight

Information technology’s generally amend for the sun to be backside your subject, especially on brilliant sunny days, so that:

  • They don’t screw upward their eyes
  • There aren’t whatsoever harsh shadows on their faces

So because the light is behind them, yous need to find a mode to light their faces, which is why you need a reflector.

Although using an actual reflector is the well-nigh obvious way to reflect light coming from behind your discipline, it’s not the only way. Y’all could:

  • Use a white sheet
  • Or cardboard
  • Or find objects in the surroundings that reflect calorie-free.

For example, look for sunlit white walls to utilize every bit a reflector. The sunlight billowy off the wall will be soft and even. Make certain it’south a white wall, as the colour of the wall will also be reflected. A dark-green wall, for example, will cast a green color over your subject, making them look sick.

Wet ground reflects lite back very well. Drinking glass surfaces are also great. Anything shiny is cracking for reflecting light, simply be aware that the shinier the surface, the harsher the lite and therefore the harsher the shadows will be.

Further reading: How to use a reflector properly and why y’all actually demand one

Man against a beach hut shade on a sunny day

Above, we stood between two beach huts. The white wall of the beach hut behind me reflected back into his face and reduced the shadows.

Below, even though nosotros were in the open shade of a building, i side of his confront is brighter than the other. That’s because the direction of light was from photographic camera left (see indicate 1).

Man photographed in the shade on a sunny day

5. Create some light

Using flash to fill up in the shadows volition help to have care of those “racoon middle” shadows under the eye acquired past sunlight overhead.

The confetti throw shot at a wedding is a perfect example of when to use on camera wink to fill in shadows. You can’t exactly arrange the bride and groom facing a convenient white wall and y’all certainly tin’t stand there with a reflector in front of them.

Further reading:

Using fill light in photography – essentials you need to know

Getting started with off camera flash

6. Shoot into the sun

Although it’south not the best time of twenty-four hour period for photographing outdoors, equally long as information technology’south xxx minutes either side of midday, you lot’ll be able to plough your subject abroad from the dominicus so that their face is in shadow. It’southward helpful for them as that they don’t accept to strain their eyes, only actually it’s even more helpful for you!

This fashion you won’t have harsh shadows travelling from their nose beyond their face up or from their eyebrows downwardly.

Bonus tip
– make sure you lot use a lens hood, just also endeavor to shade the front of your lens so that you don’t end upward with unwanted lens flare or a cloudy prototype from the sun hitting your lens. Even better if you lot tin can position yourself in a patch of shade or take a helper block the sun from striking your lens.

When you shoot into the sun, colors will be faded and the heaven in particular will be blown out. If yous’re okay with a blown out sky, not bad. If not, find ways to exclude the sky from your image – wait for trees or buildings, or shoot on the slope of a hill to block out the sky.

Likewise, use a reflector to bounce light back into your subject when photographing in bright sunlight.

Further reading:
What is the purpose of a lens hood?

7. Use the bending of the lord’s day when photographing in bright sunlight

Lastly, embrace the bright sunlight. Some subjects wait great in harsh sunlight. It’s simply a matter of beingness aware of where the sun is and what shadows are beingness created by the angle of the lord’s day, then adjusting your subject’s position accordingly.

If yous know how to use portrait lighting patterns, just pretend the sun is a giant studio light and go for information technology.

Further reading: v portrait lighting patterns y’all demand to know

If you’re photographing a landscape or architecture, it might be that textures are highlighted by the bending of the sun, which would be great.

If the sun is behind yous, the scene’s colors volition be more than saturated.

Further reading in our direction of light series:

1. Back low-cal

2. Side calorie-free

3. Front calorie-free

Shooting into the light on a sunny day

These photos were taken at 12.24 and 12.42. The first I shot into the sun and for the second shot she simply turned the other way to face up into the sunday. In both photos I used the building to cake out the sky.

Using direct sunlight for portraiture

6 important things to retrieve on sunny days…

– keep it low at say 100

Further reading: The exposure triangle – what function does ISO play?

White Balance
– set it to sunny

Farther reading: What is white residuum and does it matter?

– it’s all-time to apply spot metering and meter off the area you lot want correctly exposed, particularly if you’re shooting into the lord’s day. If you’re photographing a person, meter off their cheek then that their skin is correctly exposed.

Further reading:

When to apply spot metering?

Metering modes and how exposure metering works

– brand sure your shadow isn’t in the shot. It may seem obvious, but y’all’d be surprised how easily this can be overlooked.

five. Shoot in
transmission fashion or use exposure compensation
– especially if yous’re shooting into the light as the tricky lighting atmospheric condition volition fool your camera’south metering organisation. If the sun is behind you, the camera will find it easier to meter, unless you’re on a beach or in the snow. Then all that light bouncing effectually volition misfile information technology.

Further reading: How and when to use exposure compensation

Lens hood
– Make sure you use a lens hood. It volition help to cake the light from striking the forepart of your lens and creating flare. I’d actually advise always using a lens hood, even if it’s just to protect the front of your lens from accidental impairment. My lenses would definitely have picked up a few scratches over the years without lens hoods.

Farther reading: What is the purpose of a lens hood?

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