Photographing in bright sunlight

May 07, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Bright sunlight can be a real nightmare. At first glance, having spent a winter of dull light and very high ISO's the bright late Spring radiant sunshine can seem a wonderful set up - high shutter speeds and low ISO's...and yes, that is the way to think of it.

Such conditions are not particularly ideal for fully manual shooting ( as the light can change and there are often shaded areas) so I always choose Shutter priority mode and in the brightest conditions I normally set up with around 1/2000th sec, maybe stop down the aperture to 6.3 and set ISO at Auto. In this mode the ISO seldom goes above 1000 which is fine - I need to be sure of my shutter speed (which in sports is king) so I don't use Aperture priority which can give very low shutter speeds when the action moves into a shaded area. I simply need to keep my eye on the action, I cannot be forever checking whether my shutter speed has dropped to unusable levels and ruining my photos with out of focus motion blurring.

Advocates of Aperture priority will always tell you that they use it to get the highest shutter speed possible, thus if you set your shutter speed at 1/2000th then you may be limiting your possibilities when you maybe could achieve 1\4000th sec if you had set aperture priority at wide open f2.8 or f4. However, when you know 1/2000th is absolutely fine for the work you are doing then it is best to make sure you are always achieving it rather than having to constantly worry whether the changes in light have led to your shutter speed plummeting without your knowledge and constant attention.

One of the biggest areas to watch out for are blown highlights on the human face. With sunlight burning in from the side you can find that one side of the face is totally burned out white. In this situation you may need to look at up to -1 negative exposure compensation to protect the areas that could be blown out. It is worth checking your histogram to make sure this is working as well as it should and whether you need to make further adjustments. 

The image at the header of this blog was taken with a Canon 70-200mm lens at 120mm focal length, 1/2000th sec, f5.6, ISO 800.

 


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