6 tricks to make the most of bright sunlight

When you’re taking photos on a very sunny day, the difference in brightness between objects in sunlight and those in shade increases, which results in more contrast.

Here are the tricks that you can with the bright sunlight:

1. Make it early or late
When photographing people with the sun behind them, it helps if the sun isn’t too high in the sky. So shoot in the mornings and evenings when the sun is lower (especially in autumn and winter).

At the day’s beginning or end, sunlight becomes more diffused because of the angle of the earth’s atmosphere, so the light is softer.

If your outdoor portraits are looking a bit cool, use your camera’s Cloudy White Balance preset to warm things up.

2 Don’t use direct sunlight
Don’t position your subject so that direct sunlight falls on their face. Hard light from the sun creates too much contrast, with hard, deep shadows. It can also lead to squinting and unflattering expressions.

If possible, look for the shade of a building or tree, or try changing position so that the sun is behind the subject instead.

3 Find a darker background
When the subject has their back to the sun it creates an attractive halo effect around their hair and body. But that light edge is only visible in our shot because there’s a dark object behind our subject.

When they’re set against a light area, we don’t get the same kind of separation, so if you want the subject to jump out of the photo, position them so that there’s a shady area in the background.

4 Watch for lens flare
When shooting into the sun, or towards any bright light source, watch out for lens flare. If you find it creeping into your images, offset yourself to one side or the other. Using a lens hood will also help.

If this isn’t enough, use a hand to shade the sun from the front element of the lens.

5 Metering issues
When a person is back lit your camera’s metering system may struggle to find the right exposure and underexpose the subject. If this happens, try dialing in some positive exposure compensation to lighten up your subject, or switch to spot metering and meter off their face.

6 Creative flare
Although flare is often seen as a mistake, sometimes you can use it creatively to add to the mood of an outdoor portrait. If you want to show some creative flare, the best times to do so are when the sun is low in the sky in the morning or evening.

Use Aperture Priority mode and close the aperture down to f/16 or smaller. This will give the sun a nice pointed star shape.

Don’t shoot directly at the sun, have it just creeping into the corner of the frame, or poking out from behind your subject’s body.

If you’re not going for a lens flare effect, which requires a narrow aperture, try shooting with your lens wide open to get the shallowest possible depth of field and soften the background.