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.

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

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.

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

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.

USA america american travel landscape photography tours workshops holidays vacations 2019 with Stephen Studd

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.

USA america american landscape photography tour tours workshops holidays vacations with Stephen Studd Photography

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.

digital travel and landscape photography holidays vacations tours workshops to  Cambodia, Angkor Wat, Myanmar, Burma, Vietnam, Morocco Marrakech Marrakesh hosted by Stephen Studd

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.


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‘May the light be with you’

Stephen Studd Photography: www.stephenstuddphotography.com



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Manfrotto Pixi Tripod Review

Having only used Manfrotto tripods throughout my 25 year professional photography career, I was pleased when I was asked to review their latest tripod the Pixi.

Manfrotto Pixi tripod review Stephen Studd

It has certainly been named correctly, the Pixi weighs in at just 1.4lbs (650g) and has a height of 7 inches (18cm) when closed making it very portable.

As a professional photographer who uses high end Canon DSLR cameras, I wondered how it could be of use to me. It has been designed for holding compact system cameras (CSC`s), the iPhone® (with KLYP), compact cameras and even entry level DSLR’s using a universal ¼” screw thread. Many times on my travels and my recent photo shoot to Burma I saw people balancing their cameras on walls, bags, hats and countless other rests to get their shot; the Pixi would be perfect for those situations as it is extremely portable.

On a recent round the world travel there were countless times when I could have used the Pixi tripod with my compact camera.

Manfrotto Pixi review Stephen Studd

The tripod is very user friendly. A simple red push button (with the Manfrotto logo)releases the ball joint head to move the camera into position for your shot. When the tripod is closed it can be used as a camera grip for keeping the camera steady for making videos, though I have not tested this, I`ll leave that for the videographers.Manfrotto Pixi review Stephen Studd

Once I had played around with the tripod for a while with my compact camera and seen that it would be a very useful lightweight portable piece of equipment,

Manfrotto Pixi Tripod review stephen studd photography photographer

I was keen to really test it out with my Canon 1Ds Mark II as I started to think of photo opportunities for its use.

As well as being a travel photographer I am also a garden photographer and like to be back in the UK for summer as I have an allotment and enjoy growing my own organic fruit and vegetables. I wondered whether the tripod would hold my heavy camera?

I thought of a shot I would like to take, to try out the tripod, a very low angle view from the ground of my vegetable patch with sweetcorn and beans growing in blazing sunshine and the veg being watered, conveying that feeling of mid summer, warmth, freshness and growth.

Manfrotto Pixi Tripod review stephen studd photography photographer

My first shot using the Pixi tripod (above), with my Canon 1Ds Mark II camera with a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens, got to an area my Manfrotto 055 wouldn`t be able to and the resulting image was razor sharp.

Manfrotto Pixi Tripod review stephen studd photography photographer

My Canon mounted on the Pixi tripod in amongst the veg patch.

The question is, will it now be part of my kit bag?

My photography kit on a recent photoshoot in Burma (Myanmar)

My photography kit on a recent photoshoot in Burma (Myanmar)

As I can see the Pixi tripod being used in lots of different situations with my different cameras, is lightweight, small and very portable the answer is yes, I think I have found a new Pixi friend.

(Note from the manufacturer if using an entry level DSLR with the Pixi;

PIXI has been developed for entry level DSLRs fitting these basic requirements:
• Body: maximum weight of 650g/1.4lbs
• Focal length: maximum 85mm (standard non professional lens)
• Total equipment payload: maximum 1kg/2.2lbs
Please consider that any semi-professional and professional equipment exceeds these requirements.)

 


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