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How to Take Pictures On a Bright Sunny Day (part.2)
By Marion Owen
4) Eclipse the sun to fix distracting backgrounds
There are times when you might want to completely block the sun. For example, the flower might look stunning, but the background is too busy and steals the show from the subject. In this case, you can simplify the background by creating a darkened area behind your subject. Here's how it's done: Hold a piece of mat board against the sun and move it around until it creates a shadow behind, but not on, your subject. Meter on the subject and take the picture. (If you don't have three hands, it helps to use a tripod). Manipulating the background like this is an old photo studio trick. In this case, the resulting photo shows the flower standing out against a dark background.
5) Foiling the sun, when diffused light won't do
There are also times when you might want a bright sunny look in your images. Trouble is, you can't see much underneath the flower because it's all in shadow. Solution: Bring out the aluminum foil. The idea is to reflect light back into the shadow areas. Believe me, this simple trick creates amazing results. Reflectors can be made from any bright surface such as white mat board, aluminum-backed insulation, foil wrapping paper, or a mirror. To add a warm cast, choose a gold or copper-colored foil.
6) Backlight for a dramatic look
To set up a shot, many how-to photography books recommend placing the sun at your back. This is a worthy guideline, but for the sake of exploring artistic expression, let's break this rule of thumb. One way to make flowers really glow, is to take a picture of them when they're backlit -- that is, with the sun facing you and shining through the flowers. To set this up, face the sun so it's also behind the flowers. Increase your exposures, by one, maybe two stops. Take several shots. Depending on your exposure, backlighting can create a range of effects, from beautiful silhouettes to a stained-glass look. This is especially noticeable with transluscent flower petals like poppies, nasturtiums and pansies.
7) Last, but not least
This last point is so important, I regularly pass this along to my photography students. Photography isn't worth the effort unless you are enjoying yourself. Have fun with it. Experiment with diffusers and reflector materials. Get down low and shoot through flowers toward the sky. Include people and try different close-up techniques. Use slow speed film which provides better color saturation, and promise me you'll try to avoid putting your subject in the center of the picture!