19 Aug

2010

Shooting into the sun

 

Don’t you just love those images with bright sun in the frame, with intentional lens flare? Well I sure do. Hope you like some of my examples below:

 

 

I have always been fascinated of shooting pictures directly into the sun, of including burning light into the composition as a creative effect.

 

However, several things come to mind:

 

No more automatic exposure

The sun light is so powerful that it will completely mess-up the in-camera exposure. You can basically use the exposure compensation controls on your camera, or better yet, expose for your subject and switch to manual. The sunny highlights might become completely blown-out white, but at least the point of interest is properly exposed.

 

Harder automatic focusing

If shooting straight into the sun, you camera will surely have a hard time focusing on your foreground subjects. A simple trick you can use is to compose without the sun, focus and then recompose. Or better yet, use the palm of your hand to block the sun flare, to help your camera’s automatic focusing.

 

The importance of aperture

When dealing with flare, setting a wide aperture (f/2.8, f/3.5 etc) can sometimes create an unpleasant wash-out effect. You should reduce the aperture size to f/22 or lower if you can. The sun will now look like a star!

 

Avoid mid-day

Unless you’re shooting up at the sun (like through leaves in trees), you’re better off in the morning or evening, when the sun is lower on the horizon. That way you can place the sun easier behind your subjects, or you could also create some interesting silhouette effects. Keep the silhouettes as simple as possible, make them easy to understand.

 

Trial and error

Because of all the factors, it takes a lot a tests to get interesting results. And due to the nature of these shots, they don’t have to be very sharp or still, it’s ok. Take a lot of pictures and try to have fun with it, to experiment. You’ll surely get some nice images!

 

 

 

 

Have you got some images with sun flare or silhouettes?

Don’t forget to share you own images or thoughts by leaving a comment below.



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  • I like the lens flare effect of shooting into the sun. However, sometimes it is hard to get a nice flare and you end up with a blotch of white etc instead. I understand the principal of reducing the aperture to get the star burst-like effect but sometimes we want to shoot a subject from into the sun so as to get lens flare and also a shallow depth of field (to achieve a nice bokeh) by using a large aperture.
    Anyone encountered this dilemma?

    Have shot one such image here:
    http://www.exxposures.com/Foli... 
    (click on "people" on the left hand menu, first photo of the lady holding a scarf on the 4th row)

  • I am always fascinated by the sun and how to capture a simple photo but great looking. The sun for me is the most beautiful medium that any photographer can have.

  • I love the images I see when people shoot directly into the sun, but I can never really get the image I want. Practice, Practice, practice I suppose...

  • Excellent tips!

    Thanks!

  • Well said Alexandru. I occasionally include the sun in my compositions. In fact, I recently posted some info about how I shot one of these here: http://blog.hankchristensen.co...

    Once you decide to include the sun into your shot, it becomes one of your main subjects (if not THE main subject), and requires the same care as placing all the other subjects in the shot. A direct light source can do many things for a photo: at large aperture create an abstract look, at small aperture create a star burst, and behind a subject, create either a silhouette or ring lighting (depending on the exposure). Great post!

  • You've got some nice images in your site/blog with this technique (especially those with a small aperture that creates that star effect).
    Thanks for your notes!

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Welcome to the portfolio blog
of photographer Alexandru Vita
from Bucharest, Romania.

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