You're with your family outside during a gorgeous sunset and trying to take a group picture.
Someone yells out "Don't have the sun on our backs!" Or the group automatically positions themselves to face the sun. And we get a lot of this....
The idea that if shooting a subject in front of a sunset would result in really dark subjects. Yes and no.. Here is how I angle myself to capture glorious and magical photos......
If you're completely facing your subject and the sun is directly behind them then you would get practically a silhouette. Unless, of course, that is what you're going for. (Yes, the expecting mommy is me)
Taken with iphone6
These next photos I'll be sharing are unedited just as if any camera would have taken them.
The important thing is not to have direct sunlight on your subject's face. Indirect light is best. Look at it this way, there is light everywhere! So don't worry about there not being enough light on your subject. Your camera will adjust the exposure automatically. The trick is where you're focusing. If you're using a smart phone you can tap anywhere on the screen to focus where you want to focus and the camera will adjust the exposure. If it's dark it will lighten the whole photo so the area you focused on is lighter. If it's light, then it will darken everything until that area you focused on is darker. The downside is that if you're shooting a scene with contrasting lighting then you'll get blown out skies or really dark areas. Don't worry about the blown out skies though, I can put another one in place for you. ;-) More on this below...
For a magical effect I like having the sun behind my subject but not in the photo. Maybe a little bit can show but that's where you have to move around and see how it looks in your camera.
Now with the photo of my daughter, the sun is behind her but not in the shot yet casting a shadow on her.
I made sure to tap on her so the camera would expose her better. The neat thing is that the book she's reading is reflecting light back to her face. You can play with that idea if you want more natural light on the face. Use a reflector, white board or anything white. But you'll have to be tricky not to be in the shot. Look this technique up on YouTube for ideas.
I took photos of my sweet Bolivian cousin just a few weeks ago. I LOVE this shot. I LOVE the bokeh of the leaves behind her. The sun is behind her but to the side. To get this bokeh I made sure the sun is behind trees that are at a distance. The sun makes the out of focused leaves glow! Now my cousin is in an even 'shadow'. You do NOT want sun spots on her face by the way. Even lighting is sweet.
Now she may look a little blue, bland or slightly dark. And that green leaf can be annoying. Don't worry. That's where I come in. ;-). I've put my magic touch to warming her up, removing that green leaf and giving the overall photo a little pop.
Family reunion time! My family wanted to face the other way facing the sun. *giggle*
They looked at me strange when I told them to face this way. See, in this direction the lighting on their fronts is even. As I exposed them to be lighter, the sky got totally blown out.
I didn't worry. ;-)
I didn't worry because I had a vision. I knew I would be able to deliver them this photo below. Now as you may have noticed, a golfer got into the photo to the left behind the man in white. Poof! He's gone. For some of you, you may have noticed the brown leaf by my daughter on the floor. It's been removed. My family have been lightened which naturally caused some visible noise. (grain specs) I was able to reduce that a bit. How do you like the new sky?
For some it may be much, others may like it. It's a personal preference really. I can always find a different sky in my collection. But I personally like it. I will work with you to find the right sky.
Here's another sample for you to enjoy. My main goal was to get the glowing leaves behind them. I could have kept this photo as a vertical but I think the horizontal is much more pleasing especially since it's an endearing moment between them. Don't you feel the love? =)
And then my favorite below. I literally squealed with excitement when I caught this one.
Magic! Beauty! Glorious! The sun is and isn't totally in the frame. You really have to shoot several times moving yourself to catch that sweet spot. One degree to the right or the left would have given me different results. This photo came out so perfect I didn't need to edit it really. The only thing I did was sharpen a tiny bit and reduce the noise a touch.
Like this photo.I moved just a little bit and got this shot. I love the shot but that extra glow is gone. It's ok. I can always work and enhance it later.
I hope this tutorial helped you see how you can use the sun for that magical advantage.
Use your new knowledge to create some wonderful visions and images to make some beautiful Holiday gifts. Then when you've picked your favorite images please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for that magical finishing touch.
Please comment below or shoot me a message with any questions! Take care.
My philosophy is that photography should lighten up the heart and the eyes with vibrant color, light and majesty as memories flood back into the mind and soul. No cringing allowed. Only magic! I'm a stay at home mom of our little girl! Photo retouching and restoration have always been my passion since the 1990's. When I'm not retouching I take care of my little girl, my husband, follow God and spend time with His people. All while listening to music all the time. ;-) I also enjoy playing the piano, learning to sew, eat Thai food, lifting weights, singing hymns and trying to make my house a home. Read more...