Shooting in the Sun

Shooting in the sun... But the weather was so nice!

You have been arguing for at least half an hour with the expert in your photo shop. The sun was shining brightly, the sky was a deep summer blue, and it was at least 28°C in the shade! "There is no reason for my photographs to be spoiled! Come on! I want to speak to your manager!" You are absolutely convinced you are right. But what if...

Time of Day

You're spending your vacation in one of Quebec's beautiful parks. Two dream weeks, camping by the lake, enjoying every single moment. In the morning you decide to leave very early and explore the lakeshore with your camera over your shoulder. Your first impression at sunrise is "Wow! I never saw anything like this. Look at that light, that atmosphere, those colours! What a landscape! I've got to come back this afternoon and show this to the others."

When you return that afternoon, nothing spectacular is there. The colours are bland, and everything has a bluish cast. Of course you know what happened. Despite the fact you are in the sun, the time of day and the angle of the light from the sun play an important role in terms of the result you get.

The beginning and end of the day are ideal times because colours, textures and shadows tend to stand out. The morning dew makes for a special ambiance and creates exceptionally diffused light. As for the harsh and warm light at the end of the day, it highlights the shadows and texture of everything it touches.

Following are a few examples of pictures taken at various times of the day:

Shooting in the Sun photography tips 1
Shooting in the Sun photography tips 2

Morning dew 1

Morning dew 2

Shooting in the Sun photography tips 3
Shooting in the Sun photography tips 4

End of the day 1

End of the day 2

Shooting in the Sun photography tips 5

Before noon

Shooting in the Sun photography tips 6
Shooting in the Sun photography tips 7



Weather Conditions

Certain weather conditions can create all sorts of surprises. We list here a few situations that will affect the results you obtain and the quality of your pictures.

It is warm and it hasn't rained for several days

The air is loaded with moisture and gives a bluish cast to remote subjects. All these water particles in the air act as a filter and dull the colours, reduce contrasts and, therefore, the sharpness of your photos. The ideal solution is to wait until after a rain to shoot the same landscape. You will be surprised at the richness of the colours and quality of the light after a good storm.

Heavy Traffic Days

You are in a historic town, with its monuments, parks and local colours. But, as is the case in any major city, vehicle traffic on business days is very heavy, and air pollution quite serious. Not an ideal time for good pictures!

Choose holidays, weekends and light traffic times to shoot pictures. You will be much happier with those photographic souvenirs you bring back from your trips.

Winter's White Coat

This is one of those situations that creates the most headaches for your camera. Direct sunlight and highly reflective snow surfaces confuse your light meter cell and even sometimes your automatic focusing system. It is therefore better to place full picture subjects, such as skiers, with their backs to the sun and activate the camera fill-in flash to avoid underexposing your photos. Also watch out for underexposure created by the reading of white or very pale surfaces such as stone and cement. Use the spot metering method while focusing on a subject whose tones are near neutral gray. Then lock the setting at this level and reframe your picture on the image you selected initially.

Following are two examples of problems encountered with exposure:

Shooting in the Sun photography tips 8
Shooting in the Sun photography tips 9



Shooting in the Sun photography tips 10

Average exposure

Distance from Subject and Lens Used

A last element also affects the quality of the images obtained in the sun: the distance between you and the subject to be shot. The longer the distance, the more your pictures will be affected by atmospheric haze. For instance, the photographs of a major city and its buildings taken from far away with a super telephoto lens will be considerably affected by this atmospheric haze or warm air effect. Compared with those taken at wide angle downtown, some pictures will look diffused and lack saturation.

Note the effect of UV rays on these pictures shot with a focal length of 700 mm:

UV Veil 1

UV Veil 2

Basic Filter

In this article, we discussed colour fading and bluish cast, atmospheric haze and conditions that, combined with the sun, will considerably affect the quality of your colours. There is one filter that will reduce such undesirable factors in most of these situations. It is the SKYLIGHT 1A or 1B filter (the latter is a little more pink), which will slightly warm up the colours.

This filter, like a UV filter, blocks part of the sun's UV radiation that creates this bluish cast in your pictures. It should really remain permanently on your lens to protect the front cell of your lens at the same time. It is less costly to replace a filter than to repair or change a cell of your valuable lens.

Now that you know all this, what are you going to tell your friendly photo shop expert?

Go for it, and Happy Shooting!

With the cooperation of Jacques Bourdage, PFE.