How to photograph, when you dealing with the harsh sunlight
Every Surrey wedding photographer must face one day a situation when he/she will be forced to work with the harsh sun. Our friends frequently ask us the same question - how do we manage to create nice-looking images when the conditions are so harsh? We have our little group of photo friends, who share the same passion and we meet quite often down the pub to chat about everything regarding wedding photography while drinking nice ale. At the last meeting, we had a lively discussion on how to approach the photo shoot if it needs to be done around noon. For most photographers this is the worst nightmare - the sun is really strong and you have all sorts of technical problems. Our lot had very different opinions on how to approach this, from running and screaming to a "let's do it, but not today" and some of us even claimed that it shouldn't be done at all. We had a very different opinions on that matter. We, for instance, strongly believe that harsh sun is a problem, but it can be tackled easily by using a proper technique. It is certainly not the reason to cancel the photo shoot. Well, to be frank, in the UK the sun is rare and we learnt to appreciate it.
So... we have decided to share with you a bit of a trick on how to tackle it, especially since not many couples might be able to find the time for the wedding photography portrait shoot during the golden hour, mostly because of their wedding day busy schedule.
In order to get technically flawless portraits in the strong sunlight we just need to keep in mind a few things:
Find the right spot - this is not as difficult as it seems. We will achieve the best results in the park or someplace with trees and shade.
Use the trees as a background and remember that the sun is got to be the bride and groom (they need to be between your lens and the sun).
Now we need to make sure that our exposure is correct. We strongly believe that this is the hardest part. Almost every Surrey wedding photographer will estimate it wrong - especially when they estimate their exposure using the histogram on. But in these conditions histogram is useless I'm afraid. When you shoot against the sun your histogram will look horrific with clipped lights and shadows, but the only thing that we should be worried about is the proper exposure of the faces of the bride and groom. Let the veil be burnt on the picture, you don't need the details there. You can achieve the proper exposure using different methods: like using spot metering or bumping up the exposure compensation. The camera will always try to equalise the exposure in the frame and because of the white dress and the veil, it will decrease exposure significantly, especially in the matrix mode. That is why you need to compensate for the exposure.
So, please stick to these rules:
- the sun is behind the couple - the couple is between your lens and the sun.
- your lens is in the shadow or you are using the lens hood (to avoid the flare).
- you have some nice background behind the couple (trees, building), anything that is dark would work.
- you are using the telephoto lens - this is crucial - no wide angle would work!
- you are correcting your exposure accordingly (it needs to be corrected for proper exposure on their faces - the overexposed veil is OK).
Follow these rules and you will be able to shoot in any harsh light conditions.
camera: D3s Nikon
lens: 85 mm 1.8
shutter speed: 1/160sec.
aperture: f 3,5