Photography in Sun at Midday
Photography in sun light is a fun, especially if we know its limitations. Direct sun light at noon is a hard light, coming from top angle, which is rarely useful in photography. We can explore this light falling on suitable subjects and shoot without much equipment or a tripod. However, we can use a portable camera flash and shoot portraits and nature in this light.
Quality and angle of sun light will depend on the location. Any location, which is close to the equator will receive very hard and top light. During summer, the sun can come on exact top. When we move towards north or south of the equator (till tropic of Cancer or tropic of Capricorn) we can have the sun on dead top position during June and December in northern and southern hemisphere respectively.
Once we cross these tropical lines, the sun will never come on dead top. More we move towards poles, more will the sun remain at an angular position.
So in most of the European countries, Northern America and Canada, we will never get the sun on top even at noon. However, in Southern America, India and other countries, closer to tropical region and equator, we will get the sun on top at noon.
This is the time, when we can shoot rocks and mountains.but be prepared for blue color cast in the image as color temperature during this time may exceed 14000 degree kelvin. However, should we need to shoot a model during this time of the day, here are some tips.
Block the direct light with a white umbrella when doing a portrait photography in sun. Use a white or golden reflector at an angle to add some directional light or use head on camera flash.
We may need an out of focus, blurred background. In very bright sun, some camera may not have those fast shutter speeds to give proper exposure at wide aperture. In such case, we can use neutral density filter.
Let us take an example. In bright sun, the exposure value (EV) may reach 18 (for 100 ISO). If the minimum ISO setting of the camera is 200, and maximum fastest shutter speed of the camera is 1/2000 of a second, we will need an aperture at f-16
So in such circumstances, we cannot have blurred background, because of extended depth of field. Use of ND filter will solve this problem.
Another way to use this light for photography in sun of a model shoot is to change the angle of the model. If the model is laying on the ground, then the direct sun light, coming from top will become frontal light for the face. Or if we keep the camera at lowest possible position, and the model is laying on his or her stomach, then we can shoot a portrait with slightly lowered face. In this case, the ground will reflect back enough light on the dark shadows. However, be sure that the ground has no grass or you will get ugly green cast in the skin tone.
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