Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Into the sun

The vast majority of my images are captured at sunrise or sunset when the golden light makes the landscape look magical. However, sometimes shooting at the golden hour just isn’t possible. One trick to make dramatic images in the middle of the day is to use the sun in your image.

You don’t want to do this too often, or your portfolio will look gimmicky. Every now and then, though, a dramatic sunburst can liven up what would otherwise be an ordinary midday image. Here’s how to do it:

Hide part of the sun behind a tree branch, peak, or other something similar. You probably want only about a quarter to a third of the sun to show. Using any more than that will likely overwhelm the image. If too much of the sun shows in your frame, the darker exposure settings you will have to use to capture it will turn everything else in your frame black.

With just a tiny part of the sun showing, set your exposure using the smallest aperture possible. Very small apertures bend light, creating rays from very bright sources, like the sun. For this image, I used an aperture of f/22.

Experiment with your shutter speed and the amount of sun showing to create a nice, balanced composition. Remember, too much sun will result in everything else turning black. Too little sun will result in a tiny – or virtually non-existent – sunburst. Try different combinations to see what you like!

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