Shooting In Harsh Light (Main Image)

Whether they dabble in photography or shoot with the pros, most photographers know that there is no better time than early morning or early evening to take a gorgeous photograph. These are the “golden hours,” when warm light angles through clouds to reflect rich, textured color. Unfortunately, these “golden hours” could be more accurately described as “golden quarter hours” or, better yet, “golden ten minutes” for all the time they allow us to head outside, set up a shoot, and snap a publishable photograph.

This means that for most photographers, shooting in the middle of the day is inevitable: this is when we’re out with friends, our kids‘ sports games are played, or we’re out exploring our vacation surroundings. It’s true that there are plenty of amazing photos that were taken outside of the so-called “golden hour,” but it’s likely just as true that the photographers of those amazing photos had to make some adjustments to deal with the inevitably harsh natural lighting of an afternoon. Here are a few tips to help you battle harsh lighting on your own mid-day shoot. While you won’t need to use every tip for every photograph, it’s worth being aware of them for the time when the perfect scene presents itself.

1. Understand It’s About Color

In photography, color is just as important as things like texture, pattern, light, and form. Different atmospheric conditions and times of day will directly affect the natural color of your photo. Two different kinds of color exist in photography: soft color (fog, mist, the peaceful surface of a lake) and loud color (a bright red car, the flames of a fire). Have a plan for your photograph depending upon your subject matter and your chosen focus.

2. Don’t Shoot at High Noon

Shooting in the afternoon is one thing, but high noon is a photographer’s nemesis. With the sun straight overhead, high noon is nothing but hard sunlight that will result in hard light, lots of shadows, and weak photographs.

3. Reflect the Light

Reflected Light From The Water

Control harsh light by looking for reflected light. Glass and metal buildings are but two things that can reflect harsh light in softer, more interesting ways. Because light will pick up the color of its reflector, it may be best to seek out natural surfaces when searching for reflective material. On the other hand, think of the way a green car could reflect back onto your subject — will this look unique andartsy, or will it make yoursubject look sickly?

4. Underexpose to Your Advantage

Color often relates directly to exposure. If you have to shoot outside, try making your colors appear softer/more saturated by subtly underexposing your image. Doing so will help to control some of the harsh light.

5. Go Inside

Floors in rooms or buildings with large windows often make great reflectors. Since light picks up the color of its reflector, old wood floors can help to create a warm, yellowish light that can bathe your subject in a gorgeously interesting glow. For a more unique look, look for things like blinds, lace curtains, or anything else that might filter and diffuse light into interesting, usable designs and patterns.

6. Edit Your Photograph into Something Lovely

 

AFTER
BEFORE

 

Don’t stop once you’ve clicked the shutter release! If you’ve successfully controlled, underexposed, reflected, or diffused harsh light and turned it into a fabulous photo, go the next step and have a Phowd editor touch it up. There are any number of things an editor can do to light in a photo, and if they are fortunate enough to begin with a great image, there is no telling how successful the final result could be.

One of the great things about photography is that there is no right or wrong way to take a photograph — your final product is entirely dependent upon what you want. Just remember that while an editor can reduce shadows and enhance color to the point where an image can be completely transformed, beginning with a thoughtfully executed image will allow the editing process to take your photo to a whole new level.
Happy Shooting!

Kelsey Fox

Kelsey Fox

Kelsey Fox is a freelance writer and photographer from Louisville, Kentucky. She specializes in wildlife photography, and travels each summer to Southern Africa in search of the perfect photo.
Kelsey Fox

You may also like

Ben Novoselsky April 20, 2015

Low angle photography tips

One of the least used perspectives in photography is the low angle. I bet every photographer thinks ...

Rajib Mukherjee December 21, 2015

Some creative uses of Depth of Field

The main shooting mode dial on your camera has the letter(s) A or Av (depending on the camera ...

Ben Novoselsky July 28, 2016

Why Adjusting White Balance Can Lead to a Better Image

One of the challenges faced by photographers on a daily basis is adjusting white balance of their ...

Ben Novoselsky September 12, 2014

The Basic Rules of Photography and Common Mistakes

Everyone, even professionals, makes mistakes, although their mistakes are rare and usually caused ...

Ben Novoselsky July 18, 2016

How to Work with Leading Lines in Your Photography

Leading lines are one of the most important aspects of photography. They have the power to draw a ...

Rajib Mukherjee November 26, 2015

Photographing a landmark at night

Often, when traveling through a foreign land we find ourselves in front of an iconic building or ...

Rajib Mukherjee May 1, 2015

Five features on your DSLR camera that you probably never use

Your camera comes with three handy metering systems. If you are using a Canon system camera yours ...

Ben Novoselsky August 21, 2014

Tips for Shooting Fireworks Photos

Every Independence Day, or even Memorial or Labor Day, it’s common — a given, even — to see ...

Rajib Mukherjee April 19, 2016

Choosing the Best Travel Photography Lens

A lot of amateur photographers find it difficult to zero in on the best travel photography lens for ...

Rajib Mukherjee January 19, 2015

Light Painting in Photography: An Introduction

Light painting is a very interesting technique in photography that predominantly uses artificial ...

Ben Novoselsky August 6, 2014

Auto Exposure Bracketing: Everything You Wanted to Know


Multiple camera shots with different expose combined in HDR photo
by sumitrodda


If you are just starting out in digital photography, you have probably never heard about auto exposure bracketing (AEB). If you are an enthusiast photographer, probably you have heard about this but never quite mastered the concept to use it with confidence. Regardless of your expertise in digital photography this article can help you master an extremely important feature of your DSLR, i.e.; auto exposure bracketing (AEB).

Читать дальше...

Ben Novoselsky January 7, 2015

How editing your stock photography can lead to more sales

Before you can start selling your images on microstock websites you ought to know a few things ...

Ben Novoselsky May 18, 2017

Best Metering Mode for Landscape, Portrait, Wedding Photography

One of the most fundamental aspects of photography is to meter a scene. Metering denotes measuring ...

Rajib Mukherjee September 8, 2015

Great Images Come From Great Underlying Stories

I am a photographer who loves making photos of people and places. So every now and then I pack my ...

Rajib Mukherjee May 1, 2017

Wedding Photography – the History of the Genre

The history of recording a wedding dates back to a time long before photography came about. The ...

Ben Novoselsky November 13, 2015

Shooting Wide Panorama of Cities

Even with a wide angle lens you need to realize that there is no way that you can shoot a wide ...

Rajib Mukherjee March 3, 2017

A Beginner’s Guide to Shoot Environmental Portraits

As a genre, environmental portraits are a challenge of sorts for most photographers. It is because ...

Ben Novoselsky July 14, 2015

Five Natural Light Shooting Tips

You may have heard, nature and natural light photographers often say this – you must head out at ...

Ben Novoselsky April 6, 2017

Correct Framing in Portrait Photography

Framing is an integral part of the whole process of image making. Be it landscapes, or portraits or ...

Rajib Mukherjee August 30, 2016

Introducing Canon Dual Pixel RAW Technology

Last week, the much awaited Canon 5D Mark IV made its debut. The rumor mills have been abuzz for ...

Ben Novoselsky March 25, 2015

The Use of Diagonal Lines in Photography Composition

We often read about the creative uses of lines in photography. The horizon line is one such oft ...

Ben Novoselsky January 7, 2016

Product Photography Tips to Get Started

Apart from portraiture, product photography is one of those few genres which can provide a steady ...

Ben Novoselsky August 9, 2016

How to Use Backlighting to Isolate Your Subject

I love shooting with backlighting. Backlighting is one of those acquired tastes in photography that ...

Ben Novoselsky August 3, 2014

5 Useful Tips for Making Great Images in Low Light

Cameras like the Canon 5D Mark III and the Nikon D3X have completely changed the playing field when ...

Rajib Mukherjee September 6, 2016

Basic Real Estate Photo Tips

The following real estate photo tips will help you to get started as a professional photographer. ...

Ben Novoselsky June 29, 2017

7 Main Mistakes when Retouching Wedding Images

If there were one genre of photography that you could do without retouching then that genre would ...

Ben Novoselsky October 6, 2016

Some Basic Food Photography Tips

If you are a genuine foodie it would be a natural transgression to want to shoot images of the ...

Ben Novoselsky December 23, 2015

Outdoor Photography Beyond the Golden Hour

Landscape photographers love shooting during the golden hour of the day. They love the warm mushy ...

Ben Novoselsky May 14, 2017

Survey of Photo Contests by Industry

Does photo contests make sense in participating? – For Recognition
Absolutely. There is no better ...

Ben Novoselsky May 11, 2015

Understanding Lens Vignetting

A technical term that you are likely to hear a lot is lens vignetting. Lens vignetting (sometimes ...

Rajib Mukherjee July 23, 2015

Understanding ISO, the least understood of the three exposure parameters

If you look at the main aspects that govern exposure, you would obviously realize that there are ...

Rajib Mukherjee September 26, 2014

Don’t copy the masters’ style blindly, create your own style

Growing up as photographers one of the biggest source of guidance are the works created by already ...

Rajib Mukherjee March 21, 2016

Lighting techniques for shooting in studio environment

A studio setup allows you to be creative in ways you could never ever manage without lights. There ...

Rajib Mukherjee July 31, 2015

How to use the Panning mode in photography

Panning is the technique of going with the flow of a moving subject to make images. The movement of ...

Rajib Mukherjee September 7, 2014

Understanding the Basics of a Good Exposure

Exposure is the key concept that governs all forms of photography where light in some form or the ...

Ben Novoselsky August 19, 2016

Why You Should Invest in a Tripod

There are probably a hundred reasons why you should invest in a tripod. I am not going to detail ...

Rajib Mukherjee April 5, 2016

Five Ways You Can Use An External Flash In Outdoor Shooting

This article is meant for photographers who want to learn how to use an external flash in outdoor ...

Ben Novoselsky April 25, 2017

Background for Portrait Photography

Background for portrait photography – An Introduction
Backgrounds assume a critical importance in ...

Kelsey Fox December 18, 2014

How Properly Holding Your Camera Can Lead to Better Photos

The way you hold your camera is almost as important as choosing the right kind of camera to shoot ...

Ben Novoselsky September 17, 2015

About focal length and background distortion

You may have heard professionals talking about the right focal length and how choosing anything ...

Ben Novoselsky October 27, 2014

7 Silly Mistakes I Made as an Amateur Photographer

1. Leaving the lens cap on

Amateurs are guilty of making some of the most cardinal of mistakes. ...

Rajib Mukherjee March 22, 2016

How to Photograph Christmas Lights

Watching the Diwali lights come on one by one, at each house in our colony I couldn’t stop thinking ...

Rajib Mukherjee September 11, 2016

An Introduction to Hyper-lapse

What is a Hyper-lapse?
Hyper-lapse is one of those cool photography techniques which uses a ...

Rajib Mukherjee October 9, 2016

Advantage Of Shooting Film In The Digital Age

Old But Not Obsolete
The dawn of digital sensor also brought in the demise of film. In many ways ...

Rajib Mukherjee October 3, 2016

Getting Started in Low Light Photography

Introducing Low Light Photography
For those of you who primarily shoot with a smartphone or even a ...

Rajib Mukherjee September 17, 2016

How to Bounce an On-camera External Flash to Produce Better Images

Having purchased your first external flash you must be super-excited. You must be experimenting ...

Ben Novoselsky July 2, 2017

Best Books on Portrait Photography

In this discussion we shall take a look at some very useful books on a particular genre of ...

Rajib Mukherjee October 10, 2014

An introduction to creating timelapse videos

Timelapse videos have become somewhat clichéd these days with an increasing number of photographers ...

Rajib Mukherjee April 23, 2015

Benefits of joining a photography class

Digital photography is a vast field of specialized knowledge. Well, even if not many ...

Rajib Mukherjee September 25, 2014

Photography inspiration: How to keep shooting images

As an amateur we see images taken by photographers like Eric Kim or Jeremy Cowart or Chase Jarvis ...

Rajib Mukherjee October 6, 2014

Everyday photography ideas

I wrote a detailed article on the topic of photographic inspiration recently. The aim was to keep ...

Ben Novoselsky April 25, 2016

How do you tweak the Sunny 16 Rule in Photography?

You are out with your family on a bright sunlit day. The kind of day on which photographers prefer ...

Rajib Mukherjee August 6, 2016

Essential Tips to Improve your Photography

If you have recently migrated from a compact point & shoot to a DSLR you no doubt will be very ...

Ben Novoselsky August 12, 2016

About Flash Sync Speed Limitations and How to Work Around It

We often hear about flash sync speed and how we normally cannot use a flash to sync at extremely ...

Rajib Mukherjee July 11, 2017

Camera Settings Presets for Shooting Different Scenes

Camera settings presets are a combination of buttons and dials that can be used to recall a ...

Ben Novoselsky May 2, 2016

How Does Hyperfocal Distance Affect Your Images?

Landscape photographers often use the terms focusing distance and hyperfocal distance in relation ...

Rajib Mukherjee May 22, 2015

What is Focus Stacking?

Landscape photographers are obsessed with the idea of sharp images. They use a multitude of methods ...

Rajib Mukherjee February 25, 2015

How to Make Your Backgrounds Blurred

Sometimes you may need to blur out the background of your images. Let’s say you are shooting ...

Popular posts

Ben Novoselsky April 22, 2016

How to Photograph Birds in Five Easy Steps

Bird photography is a supremely satisfying pursuit if you do it the right way and get results to ...

Kelsey Fox September 24, 2014

8 Unique Ideas for Wedding Photos

A new spouse, a new last name, and photos - the three must-have takeaways of any wedding. Though ...

Rajib Mukherjee October 16, 2014

How to Get Started in Wedding Photography – Part 2

Compositions are everything in wedding photography; at least when you are not shooting candid ...

Ben Novoselsky November 6, 2014

Portrait Photography Lighting Tips

Portrait photography, especially when we talk about studio portrait photography, as a genre, is ...

Ben Novoselsky March 25, 2015

The Use of Diagonal Lines in Photography Composition

We often read about the creative uses of lines in photography. The horizon line is one such oft ...

Rajib Mukherjee October 14, 2014

How to Get Started in Wedding Photography – Part 1

Weddings are not only fun but they are also one of the most solemn of occasions. Two souls unite ...

Rajib Mukherjee July 31, 2015

How to use the Panning mode in photography

Panning is the technique of going with the flow of a moving subject to make images. The movement of ...

Rajib Mukherjee August 4, 2015

AF Tricks and Tips for Wildlife Photography

When it comes to wildlife photography, choosing the right auto-focusing mode can often make the ...

Ben Novoselsky June 25, 2015

A Review of Online Photo Printing Options

One of the things that photographers are guilty of and I am referring to both amateurs and ...