Why you Should be Shooting into the Sun
Spring and summer is a great time to be outside, utilising the light that sun provides us, and shooting into the sun is a really creative way of capturing this. Shooting into the sun produces lens flare, but instead of it damaging your photos, you can learn to use it creatively to get spectacular results.
Silhouettes, while fun, are not what shooting into the sun is all about. To really make the most out of the situation, you want to try and shy away from capturing these, and focus more on evenly exposing the skin tones of your subject. Silhouettes are caused by your camera trying to expose for the whole photo, rather then just your subject, and seeing as there is likely to be a lot of sun and sky in the photo; you’re likely to get a silhouette.
To avoid silhouettes, you need to change your metering mode to ‘Spot’. Spot metering means that your camera will expose whatever it is in the center of the photo, rather then the whole photo. This will likely lead to blown out, overexposed backgrounds, but that’s part of the effect of shooting into the sun. Have a look at these 2 photos below, the first one was shot on partial metering mode and created a silhouette, and the second was shot on spot, which has created a much more even exposure on the subject.
Another great way of avoiding silhouettes is to use an external flash. Now, a lot of people might find the idea of using a flash in the daylight a little bit odd, but it’s actually one of the best times to be using it. I personally used an transmitter so that I could send the flash signal to flash a few feet away at the side. This produces a lot more natural effect, whilst maintaining some of the natural shadows on the face. Take a look:
When shooting into the sun, your camera will struggle to focus on your subject, even when you manually select the focal points inside the camera. I recommend that you use the focal lock by pointing the camera at your subject with the sun hidden behind them to autofocus easily, and then moving back to how you want the shot composed. Be careful though when shooting on a wide aperture as the depth of field will be very shallow and the slightest movement will send the photo out of focus.
I actually quite like it when the subject is slightly out of focus, I feel it adds to the effect. Play around and see what works for you.
Location and Time
Consider what time of year it is and how it could be relevant to your photos; spring flowers? autumn leaves? in the set of photos I took, the beautiful rapeseed crops were in bloom and really added to the colour of the photos. Try to find somewhere a little more interesting then your backgarden. Time is one of the most important parts of getting the shot you want, as it dictates how high the sun is in the sky. Ideally, you want to have the sun at about head height to really get the best shot as it’ll be easier for your subject to play with it.
Depth of Field
Depth of field is a great way to add another interesting element to your photos. Here are 2 photos, the first was shot at f/4 and a lot of the rapeseed crop is in focus with very little contrast. Compare that to my second photo that was shot at f/1.4 and you’ll see that, to the left of the subject the crop is in focus, but after the path all you see is a smooth blur of the bokeh. This is a really nice touch and ended up being one of my favourite photos of the set.
Work with the Surroundings
Now that you know how to get the shot, it’s a good idea to try and experiment a little by playing with the surroundings. Find items that the sun can come through, and get your subject to move so that their body can work with it. This is a really great way of working basic composition into your photos, improving them greatly. Both these photos were taken at ISO 250, f/4.5, at 1/250 of a second.