Monday, July 28, 2008

Instructor's Tip: Photographing in Contrasty Sunlight

Enjoy this week's "Instuctor's Tip" by award winning nature photographer Russ Burden:

"Photographing in Contrasty Sunlight"

Bright mid day sun is very contrasty, thus making it difficult to
obtain a good picture. Highlights are very bright and shadows are
very dark. If you expose for the highlights, the shadows will go
black. If you want to record information in the shadows, you’ll blow
out the highlights. So what’s a photographer to do? To create a
successful image in mid day sun, you need to compress the contrast
range in the scene to one that can be captured. If you’re shooting a
grand vista, there aren’t many solutions. But if your subjects are in
close proximity to the camera and aren’t very large, there are

Diffuser: A diffuser is used to soften harsh light. Placed between
the subject and light source, it gives the effect of a bright
overcast day where the light evenly wraps around the subject. The
contrast range is significantly reduced allowing digital sensors to
replicate all levels of light in the scene.

Reflector: A reflector bounces light into a scene. This opens the
shadows thereby narrowing the contrast range. They come in many
shapes, sizes and materials. I carry a collapsible one with silver on
one side and gold on the other.

Flash: My most often used method of taming contrast entails the use
of flash. See this previous entry on bounce flash for more information.

The photo(s) in this post were taken by Russ Burden. To learn more about how Russ captured this image, join him on one of his photo tours. Visit Russ Burden Photography to get more information.

To take a class with Russ or a fellow Digital Photo Academy instructor in your area, check out the Digital Photo Academy. I took Russ' intermediate and advanced courses last year, and he continues to be a strong source of knowledge and encouragement as I progress in my photography.

Don't forget to check Take Great Pictures for Russ' most recent tips. On the home page, click on the "Photo Tips And Techniques" button in the left hand column. Additionally, check out his "Digital Tip of the Month" found by clicking on the Digital Photography button.

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