Posts tagged ‘outdoors’

March 22, 2011

Raccoon eyes to model looks

I’m writing this post for those of you who use automatic cameras – either the sort that’s small enough to fit into a pocket or an SLR/DSLR that you only ever use on auto. And, when I refer to the ‘subject’ of the photograph I’m assuming that you’re photographing a person ;p.
There are a couple of problems that come to mind when I think about taking photographs outdoors in full sun. Firstly, if your subject is in full sun, especially in the middle of the day, you’re likely to see harsh shadows on the face. With the light coming from overhead, shadows are thrown under the eyes and nose. These are generally quite unflattering and won’t give you the results you might like. You may also find your sbuject squinting in the harsh sunlight, closing up their eyes and scrunching up their nose. So, here are a couple of tricks you can use to counter these problems.

little boy in full sun

Little lad photographed in full midday sun. Just look at those shadows!

The first is to get your subject to move into the shade. Look closely at the shade, though. Is it dappled? If so it too might be leaving odd looking shadows on people’s faces. Look for nice, even shade. Trees or building overhangs can be quite obliging. Once you’ve maneuovered your subject into a good patch of shade, try taking your shot. Be aware that if you there is a lot of light visible within the camera frame, behind or around your subject, the camera may under expose the skin leaving the person looking a bit dark. This is because, even though your camera may be fairly sophisticated, if used on auto it doesn’t know exactly what in the frame you want properly exposed. So, the software will take a sort of average of all the light that it detects within the frame and expose for that rather than specifically for your subject’s skin. You can get around this problem by framing very closely, filling the viewer with your subject’s face, or you can try using the flash on your camera to fill in the darker portions. Try both and see which result you prefer the look of.

Boy in the shade

Here he is in the shade of a tree.

The second way to avoid the harsh shadows that full sunlight can produce is simply to find the sun, and turn your subject’s back to it. You may find again that the camera is exposing for a lot of background light. The solutions, again, are to crop in ¬†closer, or try adding some flash. The beauty of turning your subject’s back to the light, though, is that the light will catch in their hair giving a beautiful glow that is very attractive.

Little lad backlit by the sun

Here's the little lad backlit by the sun.

Both of these options should eliminate the problem of squinting by ensuring that your subject isn’t trying to stare into the sun.¬†There are other techniques used by professionals to produce good results when photographing outside, but I hope these will prove useful to you. Feel free to comment below or ask further questions and I’ll be happy to reply.

– All these photos were taken on a Canon Ixus 700 compact camera.

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