My Three Best Tips for Managing Full Sun

Summer and sunshine go hand in hand and are undoubtedly best friends. The sun wakes up early during the summer months and goes to sleep late which makes for long and beautiful days filled with glorious sunshine. What that means for us photographers is, most likely, our children are fast asleep during those beloved golden hours. I learned a long time ago that if I want to capture my children during the summer months I’m going to have to embrace full sun and so I have done just that. There are a few things I look to do when I’m out capturing my full sun summer memories as means to manage that harsh but amazing full sunlight. Here are three of my best tips for manage full summer sun:

1. Filter the light

When you are out enjoying summer and making memories this is the number one tip I can give you when shooting in full sun. Filtering out some of those strong rays of sun through a screen of some sort will make light more manageable and you might even be able to fake a golden hour look if shooting outside of that time. Screens can come in almost any form. Using a dense forest or tree line is one of my favourite ways to filter light. You can also use a structure such as a building or even playground equipment. Angles are important here. If the sun is a touch higher in the sky getting down low and shooting up with allow for the sun to appear lower in the sky making filtering easier and more effective. Remember you can even use your subject to filter a bit of the sun. Don’t be afraid to experiment and get creative.

ISO 400, 70mm, 3.2f, 1/800SS

ISO 400, 70mm, 3.2f, 1/800SS

2. Photograph a faceless image

One of the dreaded results of shooting in full sun is the common racoon eyes in which eyes fall into shadows and appear dark when sun is at a top down direction. This is simply the result of shadow being cast onto the face from the brow bone. There are a few ways to work with top down light such as have your subject wear sunglass or side light your subject having him or her turn away from the sun which allows for their own body to cast an even shadow. However, these techniques take a little patience and direction on your part which might interfere with summer playtime. Capturing a faceless image is usually pretty easy to do and is my second best tip for capturing full sun photographs. Think variety here too! You can capture a full body faceless image when your subject is turned away from you or you can even crop in tight capturing faceless details of your subject any which way you like.

ISO 100, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/4000SS

ISO 100, 105mm, 2.8f, 1/4000SS

3. Front light your subject

Front lighting your subject is as simple as ensuring that the sun is at your back and your subject is in front of you. This allows for shadows to fall back and away from your subject which creates more even lighting falling across your subject’s skin minimizing unsightly shadows. Try incorporating movement for an energetic feeling which I think melds well with full sun images. This technique also allows for deep saturated colours within an image, which I also think works well with full sun imagery.

ISO 100, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/2000SS

ISO 100, 35mm, 2.8f, 1/2000SS

Don’t be afraid to embrace full sun this summer! It really is beautiful light! Experiment and play around you’ll be learning and fine tuning your photography skills as you do this! I look forward to seeing all your summer images over @thephotographersnotebook on Instagram.