Quick tips: How to shoot pictures in strong sunlight

May 5, 2016

They say that natural light is the best light for a photographer, but while this is generally true for portraits, too much of anything can be a bad thing.

Remember those snaps your parents would take of you squinting on the beach, with most of your face in shadow? Strong sunlight from a cloudless sky has many photographers rolling their eyes. The shadows it casts can be a real headache for people shots and often results in unflattering images.

One solution is to move people into the shade where the light is softer, although for some situations this can spoil the atmosphere. Here, then, are some handy tips for beating the glare on a sunny day.

  1. In bright daylight, try popping up your camera’s built-in flash, or slot on a flashgun to add a bit of flashlight to fill in the shadows, particularly under the eyes. Wind down the flash output to avoid an over-bright subject.
  2. Reflectors are great for throwing light back to the subject’s face in strong sunlight and filling in shadows. The silver surface gives a more neutral reflection, while the gold surface will add more warmth.
  3. A handier alternative to a reflector is an LED light wand. You simply adjust the intensity of the LED to suit. Most can be mounted on a tripod or light stand for greater flexibility and can be easier to use outside than a big reflector.
  4. A ringflash adapter casts a nice even light on the face, but some can be awkward to use. A cheaper device is a honeycomb diffuser grid that concentrates a small circle of light on your subject’s eyes or face.
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