Tip #21: Shooting in Direct Sunlight

Tips for Shooting in Direct Sunlight

A few tips back, I discussed shooting in the shade when outdoors to avoid harsh shadows and squinty eyes. Generally, this is a safe option when taking group photos, but different types of natural light can be a good thing too! 

Don't be afraid of shadows. Incorporating shadows can add a high volume of contrast, detail and depth to your imagery. To master this you'll want to ensure you manually set exposure - which is super easy to do on your phone! If you're shooting with direct sun & shadows, your camera is going to get confused and try to expose for both. This means where the sun is hitting will be way too bright looking because the camera is trying to compensate for the dark shadowy areas. If it's overexposed, you'll lose the detail and color in the bright areas of the photo. 

 To get proper exposure inside the camera, tap on your subject where the light is hitting them (not where the shadow is). If it still looks blown out and over exposed, tap again and press and hold down on the screen, then drag your finger down in order to slowly decrease exposure until it's perfect. See how in this video: 

Timestamps: iPhone 00:00 | Android: 02:04

Manually Expose When Shooting High Contrast Images with Direct Sunlight

See the photos on the left that were shot with auto exposure? Notice how the shadows are pretty bright compared to the photos on the right? The camera is trying to brighten those dark areas, which is why you have to set the exposure manually with one tap (see how in the video above).   

Get in the Spotlight Sunlight

Utilizing direct sunlight in your photos can add an artistic flare with lots of contrast if you work the angles and camera settings properly. "Magic hours" are the BEST for soft, direct sunlit photos. Magic hours are the first hour of sunlight and the last hour before sundown. It's important you watch the video above to see how to exposure photos like this properly as your camera will be confused with such high contrasting spots on the screen. 

Have fun with Shadows

No shade around but don't want shadows? Do this trick. 

Simply turn your back towards the sun!