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Photographing Into the Sun

USA America Nevada Utah Arizona south west travel landscape photography tours workshops holidays vacations 2019 with Stephen Studd grand canyon sunrise

This can be tough to get right, but I’ve found that the latest camera sensors seem to be dealing with this difficult lighting situation really well. Experiment with your camera to see how it copes and create beautiful dreamy contemporary images.

I am using this technique in both my travel and garden photography and clients really love the feel it gives.

Here are a few tips for shooting into the sun.

KEEP YOUR LENS CLEAN

Dust, grease and scratches increase the risk of getting distracting flare. If you have a lens protecting filter on, take it off as sunlight can bounce in between the filter and the lens like in the shot below.

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Without the filter.

digital photography holidays holiday vacations tour tours workshop workshops to America USA American South West Canyonlands hosted by Stephen Studd

USE MANUAL MODE 

Choose the ISO you want, shoot in RAW and manual focus. Choosing your own aperture and shutter speed gives you the desired control over the effect you are after. Underexposing the image by meter reading for the sun will give you a dark silhouette and what I call a 1970’s feel which is dated to say the least.

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For the shot below I got my exposure reading by pointing the camera to the far right (away from the sun), once I’d set the meter reading in manual mode I pointed the camera into the sun and got the perfect exposure with detail in everything, the subject has a blown out highlight which is the bright sun giving a more contemporary feel.

digital travel photography holidays vacations workshops courses photographic tours to  Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Burma, South East Asia and USA America hosted by Stephen Studd Photography

The shot below same technique, meter reading away from the shaft of sunlight, then moved the camera position on a tripod and then the image taken into the light, leaving detail in the surrounding rock formation at Upper Antelope Canyon.

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TRIPODS MAKE LIFE EASIER

When shooting backlight with the camera on a tripod, it’s easier to move the camera angle to control any distracting flare. The shot below is on a tripod, see lots of flare.

USA America Nevada Utah Arizona south west travel landscape photography tours workshops holidays vacations 2018 2019 with Stephen Studd

ISO 100  f22 @ 1/8th sec

This type of flare I don’t like. Once the camera was on the tripod I shielded any bright sunlight getting into the lens by ‘flagging’ to block light and protecting the lens from flare. I use my Lee filters black filter pouch placed above the lens until flare disappears. This can take a few goes to get right. In the photo below the black Lee filters pouch is in the top of the frame. However you can already see the flare has been reduced with more contrast.

_MG_4405

ISO 100 f22 @ 1/8th sec  with 0.6 Grad soft ND

This is the shot I was after below. Fully flagged and no flare shooting straight into the sun. To hold more detail in the final image I used a 2 stop soft graduated ND filter.

USA America Nevada Utah Arizona south west travel landscape photography tours workshops holidays vacations 2018 2019 with Stephen Studd

ISO 100 f22 @ 1/8th sec with 0.6 Grad soft ND

ND GRADUATED FILTERS 

These will help balance the exposure in your photograph. Remember to keep your filters clean.

As the sun was obscured behind a small cloud in the photograph below there was less chance of flare so I kept the ND grad on. Again I exposed for the far left of the frame, then pointed the camera into the sunrise light for a clean, fresh and modern sunrise feel.

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0.6 Grad soft ND

HIDE THE SUN BEHIND AN OBJECT

Placing the sun behind an object gives you less chance of flare and can create a beautiful feel to your photograph. The shot below was taken for Paul Hervey-Brookes show garden for Viking Cruises at the RHS Hampton Court Palace flower show.

_MG_0387

The shot below taken again on Paul Hervey-Brookes garden at the Chelsea Flower Show .

Paul Hervey-Brookes Associates,  11 Lansdown, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL5 1BB, England, UK. landscape garden designer Viking Cruises Wellness garden gold medal RHS Chelsea Flower Show London UK 2018 photography by Stephen Studd photographer, Built by Gar

EXPERIMENT

One thing to take into consideration is that various camera models do act differently using this technique. Get to really know your camera model and what the sensor can deal with. Have fun and try out different apertures and lenses to see what effects they give. Once you’ve mastered the technique with a tripod you can use it in other styles of photography where a tripod can’t be used.

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BLACK AND WHITE

The technique also works well when converting images to black and white. At the Grand Canyon the moody dramatic conditions immediately made me think I wanted a black and white image, the conditions were crying out for it. I shoot in colour in RAW, then convert to B&W later in Lightroom. You can see on the left side of the photograph the sun was shining through the clouds. I again used a 0.6ND soft graduated filter to hold detail in the stormy rain filled clouds.

USA America Nevada Utah Arizona south west travel landscape photography tours workshops holidays vacations 2018 2019 with Stephen Studd

Do you use this technique in your photography? Hope you found the tips useful so you can put the technique to good use, I would love to see your results. Thanks for taking time to drop by the blog.

I have a blog post all about converting to B&W HERE


WARNING: Be really careful, don’t look into the sun for too long as it can damage your eyes. The main reason this technique works really well with a tripod is once the photograph is lined up you don’t need to keep looking through the viewfinder into the sun. With hand held shooting into the sun you can blind yourself.


My photography tours in Cambodia, Vietnam, Marrakech the USA and the Gower, can be found here: http://www.digitalphotographyholidays.com

Newsletter subscribers receive special offers throughout the year on my travel photography holiday and landscape photography workshops, you can subscribe here

‘May the light be with you’

Stephen Studd Photography: www.stephenstuddphotography.com



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Photographing sunrises, be in place early.

There is a time between night and actual sunrise that is really magical in photography. This time of day is my favourite, it has a unique light and colour and is generally still and quiet. You also get to witness the sky lottery; what colours are going to be produced, how long will it last, is it going to completely cloud over, which quite often happens. When the conditions all come together a joy fills the heart and you know instinctively that you have the photograph you came for.

digital travel photography holidays tours to Angkor Wat, Cambodia, Burma, Vietnam, Marrakech and Gower Wales hosted by Stephen Studd photographer myanmar hosted by Stephen Studd

Angkor Wat, before sunrise. Manfrotto tripod and head: Canon 6D, Canon 24-70mm lens: ISO 400 – 30 sec @f8 – 0.3ND soft grad filter

You will need a torch to get you to your location pre sunrise, it also helps you with setting your camera dials in low level light conditions. For the photograph above, the scene was really dark to the eye. I set my camera up on my tripod and used a remote release for mirror lock as exposures can be long and you don`t want camera shake. I took a test shot at an extremely high ISO to see whether I had focussed correctly with manual focus. If you use autofocus it is best to move it to manual focus as cameras find it hard to focus in very low light conditions. Once I knew the camera was focused I locked the focus and set my ISO to 400, which still gave a 30 second exposure at f8. I always photograph on manual mode and as the light changes quickly from near dark to sunrise don’t forget to keep adjusting your camera settings. I always have my camera set to RAW for high quality images. I used a 0.3ND soft grad filter to balance the sky with the foreground. I could of used a 0.6ND but wanted the water to be slightly darker than the sky.

Depending on where you are photographing on the planet determines the length of time before first light and sunrise, in the tropics you generally only have about half an hour pre-sunrise.

When it starts to get much lighter, be ready for the actual sunrise, which will give you a whole new feel to your scene. As you can see between the two photo’s the cloud had completely disappeared in the photograph below, which was taken 45 minutes after the photograph above. I had waited for the sun to rise to give me another saleable image from the same morning. Both images have been published in several travel magazines and books.

For the shot below, in my last blog post ‘How to Shoot into the Sun’, it explains how to achieve this effect in your photographs

digital travel and landscape photography holidays, vacations, photo tours and workshops to Asia, Cambodia: Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat, sunrise: Manfrotto tripod and head; Canon 6D, Canon 24-70mm lens:              ISO 100, f16 @ 1/500

Get out and enjoy this spectacular time of day, it stills the mind and fills the soul with joy!


I run photography holidays and tours to Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam and in the Gower, Wales, please visit the website for full itineraries and information: www.digitalphotographyholidays.com

Newsletter subscribers receive special offers throughout the year on my travel photography holidays and landscape photography workshops, you can subscribe here

‘May the light be with you’



Keep connected: Social media:

Facebook:

DigitalPhotographyHolidays

stephenstuddphotography

Instagram: @stephenstuddphotography/

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@StephensPhotos

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