Photographing People Having Fun in the Sun
Photographers constantly strive to bring emotive, realistic, pleasing and just plain extraordinary photographs to the forefront. It is an art and like many art forms sometimes it is difficult to get noticed mainly due to the large number of competitors all vying for the same recognition.
Many art forms face some difficult techniques regardless of what the art form entails and in photography very few instances present the photographer a challenge like shooting during the brightest part of the day but it can still be done with great outcomes.
One project which is quite marketable not only for photography based publications, greeting cards, book publishing and so on is one that captures moments when people or animals, are having "fun in the Sun" as it were. The project like its title insinuates, takes place in sunshine and its main principals are those who enjoy it. If the shoot takes place in an area that has nice vistas then consider submitting the photographs to a local tourist board as well.
Although we often associate a fun day in the Sun with going to the beach, there are plenty of other activities that can be included in the project.
For example, people relaxing while on a picnic, some animals frolicking in an open field, a child relaxing under the cool shade of a tree and so on.
Your images, to be representational of the theme, should be taken in direct sunshine although you must still be on guard not to capture images that are overpowered by this high contrasting light.
Diffused light is still the best alternative so long as the audience can tell that the subjects are interacting with each other or performing activities in the sunshine of the day.
When the sunlight is bright like when the Sun is high in the sky, the background of a landscape or any scene can often be extremely bright and your camera's meter can be tricked with foreground tones that are much darker than the rest of the scene. How do you compensate for this? By taking the shot with a full stop of underexposure.
This will allow the bright areas to show as natural tones while leaving other elements not directly under the influence of direct sunshine to appear a bit washed out but this can be easily fixed with a digital editing program.This is made possible by ignoring the default setting in most camera metering systems, which is often inadequate for harsh light, and overriding it.
A good technique is to focus on any element which is not being affected by direct harsh light and setting the meter for that reading, then composing the scene regularly and taking the shot. This is often referred to as bracketing.
Another good method to follow is to do close ups by either getting physically close to the subject or zooming in. This usually lets you see the scene in much more detail without the distraction caused by the harsh illumination.
If in doubt , then take a reading from any area that lies in a shadowed location and manually setting the meter.
Some good poses should include silhouettes and poses in which the subject is recognizable as to its form but not much else. Let the sunlight set the tone and without sacrificing the technique compose the shot to capture a pleasant overall image.
Remember that the human eye is capable of seeing detail in even the brightest situations but your camera meter is not. Pay attention to the main point of focus when composing the shot but equally to the background as it can often show up as washed out highlights which will more than likely prove to be a huge distraction for your audience.
Also take note of your ISO (International Organization of Standardization) setting as bright sunshine lends itself well for a lower ISO than normal. A low ISO setting allows the camera to capture much more detail with less camera noise.
When selecting shots keep in mind that your subjects need to be enjoying themselves and taking advantage of the bright sunny day which nature has afforded them. Smiles, happy kids running , pets playing all make for good set ups, people sunbathing or simply relaxing under the cool shade of a tree.
Be attentive to the care of your gear, sand, sea water and the heat of the day can all take their toll and some precautions are in place. Wipe the camera outer portions and lens surface often if shooting on the beach. Keep your camera away from the direct Sun when not in use and use a lens hood at all times to minimize the chances of catching bouncing light as it hits the interior of the lens.
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© 2013 Luis E Gonzalez