Photography at Noon in Harsh Sunlight

A sunny day is a perfect day to capture great images. With fair skies and the sun smiling, you have all the time to shoot and capture just about any scene or object you like. Whether you want to take photos of people, landscapes or objects around you, you can do so at your own free will.

noon photo

“The Simple Life” captured by PictureSocial member Ji Yeon So

Unfortunately when it’s nearing noontime, the heat can become unbearable and the light too harsh. When the sun is at its highest point, shadows can be created on your subjects. As such, you need to utilize some creative techniques that will help you capture clear images despite the bright light.

A priority for you and your camera will be protection from the sun. As you apply sunscreen on your skin, your camera will also need to be protected from overexposure. You can do this by protecting your lens through increasing the shutter speed or decreasing the aperture.

Fill Flash

You may also need to use a fill flash. This will eliminate shadows from your subjects and providing light to the dark spots, particularly if you’re shooting during midday when the sun is on top of you. The flash will be useful if you’re taking a photo of a person wearing a hat or when people are facing away from the sun. Keep in mind, however, that you don’t necessarily have to use a separate flash because your camera’s built-in flash can serve its purpose. You just have to set it to its fill flash mode.

Shade

Find a shady area if you need to shoot during noontime and in an open field. A tree, a bush, or an umbrella will help protect you from the sun’s heat and allow you to capture lovely images including landscapes and wildlife at midday.

harsh sunlight photo

“Bora Bora Honeymoon” captured by PictureSocial member Paul Nolasco

Umbrella

Don’t forget that your umbrella, particularly if it’s a white one, can also serve as a light diffuser while you’re shooting outdoors. The idea is to soften the light on your subject and the umbrella can very well do the job. If you don’t have company, you can use your tripod to hold the umbrella even with your camera on it. Just be sure to bring some tape to tie your diffuser to the tripod while you’re shooting.

ISO

Adjusting the ISO of your camera is another trick. When the light is harsh and bright, experts recommend a lower ISO to get great shots and avoid the washed out images. Be mindful of this if you’re using the SLR camera.

Perspective

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment and shoot with different angles and backgrounds. This will allow you to capture dramatic images even if there’s bright light. For instance, you can shoot your subjects under shade, or if you’re doing macro, you can shoot subjects with a dark background to achieve a cooler effect on your images without the bright light.

subjects in shade

“Canal guides” captured by PictureSocial member phan ke thai

Remember that your eyes and your camera don’t always react the same way when there’s bright light. But know that you can also capture beautiful images even at midday—so don’t stop learning the ropes.

About the Author:
For information about digital cameras, visit 42photo.com, New York’s legendary camera store in business for over 40 years.

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5 Comments

  1. Excellent advice. Don’t forget the technique of putting your subject between the camera and the sun to backlight them – it can be so much more flattering

  2. Great post. I shoot a lot at midday so am familiar with these kind of obstacles. Using a low aperture and high shutter works great for me. Using the flash is new to me, so I’m going to try it out!

  3. Ben Dangerfield says:

    You left out the Circular Polerizer. If you chose this a lot of the glare and sunspot and exposure problems
    would go away.

  4. priya says:

    Great post! Very informative
    Thanks for sharing the brilliant ideas.

  5. Bernie says:

    A white reflector will also work instead of a flash. It will bounce back the sun onto the subject’s face with a lovely soft light. (Of course, you have to carry the thing with you!)

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