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How to Take Pictures On a Bright Sunny Day (part.1)
By Marion Owen
Bright sunny days are wonderful for picnics, but they're not so hot for taking pictures in the garden. Give me an overcast day, and my camera and I are happy campers. But what if the flowers you've been waiting for all season are in their prime right now, and cloudy skies are not in the forecast? There are ways to get around the sunshine.
Here are seven tips that professionals use to help you make the best of a sunny situation. Then, I'll describe some low-tech photo equipment that you can make from household items and add to your camera bag of tricks. Whether you use a "point and shoot" or a large format camera, these tips will dramatically increase the number of "keepers" in your photograph collection.
How to make the best of a bright situation
1) Timing is everything
The easiest solution to extreme lighting is to simply avoid the midday sun. Try taking your pictures early in the morning before the breezes start up and when the leaves are still covered with dew. For a warmer, more pleasing light, wait until late afternoon.
2) Wait for an overcast or foggy day
Since the diffused light of an overcast sky or hazy sunlight is ideal for flower photography, it can be worth waiting for the right light. Incidentally, overcast days also provide the best lighting for portraits. We've all seen nose shadows across cheeks and eyes disappear in ball cap shadows. If it's partly cloudy outside, set up your photo and wait for a cloud to pass in front of the sun. Make sure you adjust your exposure to compensate for the drop in light intensity.
3) Bring in the clouds
What if you can't wait for the clouds to roll in? It's simple: Take charge and make your own overcast day. This is especially handy when you're shooting closeups of objects. You can make your own "soft box" lighting conditions by blocking the bright sunlight with a diffusing material. Here's how it works: Take a 12 to 18-inch square section of wax paper, bedsheet, T-shirt, white garbage bag, frosted glass or hardware cloth. Hold it (or have someone hold it for you) between the sun and the flower you're photographing. See how the diffuser softens the harsh sunlight? Suddenly, the shadows are less prominent and not as distracting. And while you're taking pictures, take one with the diffuser, and one without, just to prove it to yourself. I think you'll be amazed at the difference.