Photo Tech Tips: Shooting in Bright Sun

Occasionally mother nature just doesn’t cooperate. This summer has been so hot in MI I dread having my couple’s in the sun, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Even trees aren’t providing much comfort in the 100 degree heat. Or shade for that matter.

In times like these, it’s important to know how to shoot in the sun if shade isn’t available. So, here are a few before and afters with my settings and technical details. Mind you I am no expert, this might not even the best way to do things but this is just what works for me.

 All images were shoot with Canon 5DMII. Tech details below each image.

For Jill and Matt’s wedding in Traverse City is was about 98 degrees outside. Luckily we were by the water so we had a breeze but it was still very humid. Here is a shot looking towards the house, nice pretty shade on the house, so you can image where the sun was… right on the other side of the dock.

Here’s an overall shot of me shooting the wedding party in direct sun. Why didn’t I just go on the other side of the dock? Well I wanted the sky. I knew that this would be a wide shot from far away, so I was ok with a little squinting bridal party because I knew it would be too far away for that to be an issue.

I like the candid nature of this image. The bridal party is hanging out and the bride and groom are in their own little world. And I have sky!

F/13 @200 28-70mm lens at 27mm 200 ISO

Then, I moved to the other side of the dock, completely in the water this time.

F/13 @ 100 28-70mm lens at 24mm 200 ISO

While it’s still a fun shot, there isn’t the same effect. There is no sky and I’m not a huge fan of lens flare. Not bad overall, and I still included it for the bride and groom. Yes, I could have gotten the blue sky in this image if I used an OCF set-up. But there was no way I was dragging that out in the water in 100 degree heat. I always chose to work in natural light.

For the couple shots, I started at the end of the dock (see above picture) near the boat. The sun was still coming from the same angle on the left hand side. I positioned Matt behind Jill to create a shadow for part of her face. She is fair skinned (like me) and I didn’t want her skin and dress to be over exposed. I then asked Matt to take two steps to the right so he wasn’t directly behind Jill. they were joking about being hot and tired and he put his head against hers as if to pretend sleep. This was the image that resulted. I didn’t like both of their eyes closed so I said, “Ok Matt you have to open you eyes and look at me. But let Jill relax.”

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Grand Rapids Wedding Photographer, Wedding Photographer Grand Rapids MI, Wedding Photographer Metro Detroit MI, Metro Detroit Wedding

f/2.8 @ 4000 70-200mm lens at 80mm 200 ISO

This is the image that resulted above, straight out of the camera. So now I have him looking and smiling and Jill with her eyes open but looking down. They both create shadows for each others faces. I knew I’d still have to do a little Photoshop work to remove small shadows. But I like this image. However, I knew it could still be better…

I asked Jill to bring her head up just a little and look at me with just her eyes. A lot of the times when you tell clients to look at you, they automatically turn their heads in your direction, it’s just instinct. So I always make sure to tell them “Look at me with just your eyes.” If you give clear instructions your clients will feel more comfortable posing for you. Below is the image that resulted. The left is right out of the camera and the right is retouched. I did a basic curves adjustment and removed the harsh shadows from their face with the band aid and content aware tools.

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F/2.8@ 3200 70-200mm lens at 75mm 200 ISO

The good thing about this location was the white dock. It’s a giant reflector. I asked Jill to place her chin on Matt’s shoulder to make a perfect shady spot for her face to rest. Basic curves adjustment and skin smoothing in LR was done below.

F/2.8 @1600 70-200mm lens at 102mm 200 ISO

I hope this post helps! Let me know what other photo tech tips you’d like to see on the blog

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  • I do wedding photography in Johannesburg, South Africa! This is a lovely post. Thank-you for sharing such quality.ReplyCancel

  • […] It was cold, about 40 degrees. A blanket was much needed. This was shot around 10am. This light, which photographers call “Golden Hour” is available in the late evening about an hour before sunset and early morning right before harsh noon light. (F/2.8 @500  ISO 200 70-200mm lens) More tips on shooting in the sun here. […]ReplyCancel

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