The Sun is Going Down – Now What?

Babies are Fast

Abigail running away from us while visiting Prospect Park

We know that sunrise and sunset are supposed to be the best times to shoot pictures.  And it is.  But it also brings a lot of problems.  In the photo above, you can see some of them.  There’s some flare around Abigail.  The colors are a bit muddy.  Shadows are long and harsh.  But look at that beautiful light.  It’s intense, warm, emotional.  How should we handle light like this?

Things to be aware of:

1. If you have the light behind you, it will shine into your subjects’ eyes, and they will squint or go blind.

2. With the sun over your shoulder, your own shadow will often intrude into the picture.  This can sometimes be a nice effect, but usually, it’s not.

3. If the sun is behind your subject, you will get a beautiful sunset/sunrise, but your subject will often be a silhouette.  You can fix this nicely with a good use of flash, but this causes its own problems (and I’ll discuss those problems in a later post).

4. This sun is intense, and can easily cause areas of your photos to completely burn out (meaning areas will be completely white, with no detail whatsoever.  This will ruin an otherwise good shot.

In the above photo I avoided blinding Abigail by shooting her from behind, which also adds an interesting perspective that is too seldom used.  I also shot so that the sun was coming from the side, and it was filtered a bit by the branches of some nearby trees.  Because the sun was not behind me, I didn’t have to worry about my own shadow, but I did need to be aware of the shadows of those trees I just talked about.  To avoid a burned out image, I made sure chose a bit higher f-stop than I might have wanted, leaving Abigail a bit darker than I normally would have, but that darkness is pretty easily fixed nowadays in nearly any photo editing software.

So what do you think of the photo above?  Not perfect, but hopefully not too bad either.

Drop me a line and let me know your opinion.

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