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Tips for Shooting Against the Sun

Posted by Jacob Hawthorne on

Tips for Shooting Against the Sun

It’s always best to shoot with the sun or light source illuminating your subject. If the light is behind them, it will create a silhouette look which may or may not be the desired effect, but if it’s not, you’ll want to avoid it. This type of lighting can also cause sun flare which never looks great. 

Obviously, the best way to avoid this is to shoot only when the light is in front or to the side of your subject. But this isn’t always possible. So what do you do when taking shots with the sun behind your subject? Here are a few tips. 

Block the Sun

One way to reduce sun flare is to block the sun from directly entering your lens. This can be done with a lens hood but if the sun is directly behind your subject, it won’t be enough. 

Another option is to position yourself so the sun doesn’t appear in your frame. For example, you can step to one side or crouch down low to force the sun out of the image. 

You can also block the sun with your main subject or another large object, so it doesn’t appear in the shot. 

Use Exposure Compensation

This involves you switching your camera to Aperture Priority Mode. It will help you adjust your exposure before you take the picture with the help of something called exposure compensation. It tells your camera whether you want a brighter or darker shot in advance. 

A positive exposure compensation will get you a brighter image while a negative exposure compensation will get you a darker image. 

However, the setting will only let you brighten up your subject or background to get more detail. You won’t be able to do both. 

Take Two Photos and Merge Them

For this technique, you will need to set your camera on a tripod so it’s completely still. Then take a test image and check to make sure your subject is well exposed. Make exposure compensation adjustments if necessary. 

Then take the exact same shot using negative exposure compensation. This will get you a well exposed background.

Now you will have one picture of a well exposed background and another of a well exposed subject that can be merged in processing. 

Adjust the Exposure in Post Processing

Today’s post processing programs are so advanced you can use them to lighten certain parts of the image and darken others. This will work best if you shoot in RAW, not JPEG. You will also get the best results if you underexpose your image while taking your photo. 

Embrace the Effect

If all else fails, go for a silhouette effect. Note, you may need to use exposure compensation to get the results you are going for in this circumstance as well, but it will be well worth the effort. 

Shooting with the sun behind your subject comes with it’s share of challenges, especially if you are not looking for a silhouette, but there are ways to overcome these issues. The tips in this article will help you get great looking photos no matter what the situation may be. Here’s to a future of great shooting! 

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