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Crisp & Hazy Bright Sunny days

Sunny day photography: two common problems

It’s a bright sunny day. You jump into your favorite outfit, you force your husband to snap some flattering photos of you and your little adventurers. Nothing can go wrong!

A few years ago, these beautiful sunny days mostly ended in frustration, low self-esteem and above all, not the pictures I had in mind. Why? It seemed so simple; the sun was shining bright so there was plenty of light available. What went wrong?

Problem one: Harsh Sunlight

Me, the Etna and shadow-bags under my eyes

Naturally I set off around lunch time, positioned myself in an open area facing either directly the sun or with the sun right on top of me. The result? Squinting my eyes against the sun (no relaxed or natural expression at all) and big non-flattering shadow-bags under my eyes! As you can see on the pic where I concurred the Etna (with my non-hiking gear), the lighting was too harsh and only came from one direction.  

Me, the Etna and shadow-bags under my eyes due to harsh direct sunlight on my face.

How to avoid harsh sunlight on a bright sunny day

Time of the day

Be an early bird and enjoy the sun rising low in the sky! Not a morning person? Go a couple of hours before sunset and experience that beautiful golden hour in the evening. Why? The hours after sunrise and the couple of hours before sunset, the sun is low in the sky, making shadows softer and definitely more flattering! Not only will you look more elegant, you’ll notice that depending on the position of the sun above the horizon, beautiful colors will show up. Golden hour, as the name suggests, will give you a nice, warm, golden glow. However, golden hour is just a fraction of these magical hours. I won’t bother you with all the definitions, just make sure to stay long enough and enjoy the light changing into beautiful colors.

The ‘Little Adventurer’ preset of our Crisp & Hazy Lifestyle Preset Bundle was used to edit this photo. Photo shot a few minutes before sunset in Ivinj, Croatia.

Play with the position of the sun

By now it should be clear that avoiding harsh light directly on your face is the way to go. But what if you do want to shoot during the day? My tip: shoot with backlight to create that stunning dreamy photo look! What the heck is backlight? In photography, backlight means that your subject (your kids, dog, cat, husband or whoever you want to shoot) is illuminated from behind. In other words, if you are the one taking the photos, you should be the one facing the sun. My favorite is shooting backlight with your subject placed in the shadow. That means that sunlight which is coming from behind your subject is filtered through, for example, the leaves of a tree. You’ll notice that this will give you a pretty dark photo as the face of the subject is now completely shaded. This is when the importance of photo editing comes into play. We used our Crisp & Hazy Lifestyle Preset Bundle to create these dreamy photos.

Problem two: washed-out white spots

Me, the sea and washed-out spots on my skin

Good mood, happy vibes and a stunning Sicilian beach, but the exposure was bad bad bad! The photo was shot too bright and a lot of details in this photo are lost because of the overexposure (my skin is washed-out on several spots!). This is a no-no-no-go! Even photo editing won’t fix this, my skin is just forever gone (at least in this image, haha). That’s why I recommend capturing your images rather a bit too dark (this is especially the case for outdoor photos!) than too bright.

Me, the sea and washed-out spots on my skin due to overexposure.

Conclusion: five easy reminders for photography on a bright sunny day

  1. Never-ever-ever shoot your photos too bright. This is fatal for your photos!
  2. Avoid harsh mid-day sunlight directly in your face. This is usually not flattering. It’ll give you shadow-bags under your eyes and, unless you have advanced modelling skills, your facial expression will not be as flattering as you hoped for.
  3. Experiment with soft, glowy light around sunrise and sunset. This light will flatter your skin and your face, I promise!
  4. Shoot with backlight and/or try to filter sunlight in a way that your subject is completely in the shade when shooting mid-day.
  5. Editing is a MUST to bring life and color in your photos!

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