Don't Be Afraid Of Harsh Light!

You’ve probably heard many photographers tell you, “Find the shade” or “1pm sunlight looks bad”. Well what if I told you they were wrong. Like really wrong.  Be different. Embrace that light that many shun away.

I’m an impatient person who loves the beach. So what does that mean? 1pm beach sunlight or from what I hear from a ton of people, terrible light. I’ve always wanted to be a versatile person so when a situation arose, I knew how to deal with it and you should be doing that with harsh light. You’re not always going to get that perfect sunset that you hoped for but that 1pm “terrible light” will always be there.

So how do we shoot this? UNDEREXPOSE. Your camera is going to want to expose for the people which will blow your background out, or make it completely white. That’s what you don’t want. Your camera says shoot at 1/500 of a second? Shoot it at 1/800. Cameras today can bring out so much shadow detail, we can all shoot darker to preserve those precious highlights. If the highlights end up being a little too bright, you can bring the slider down until it looks more natural.

The one thing you’re going to want to look out for is how the shadows are on the eyes. Yes cameras can pull shadows but not all of it. Picture this. You see the shadow as grey, your camera sees that darker than your eye does, so that grey shadow is going to be black to your camera.

Now this going to depend on your camera, but I’ve been able to bring almost black photos back to life by a simply raising the exposure and bringing the shadow slider up.

You can also use this trick for shooting in darker conditions. Say it’s right after sunset and you’re losing light, you can shoot dark, therefore keeping a higher shutter speed and having the image be sharper and then raising exposure and shadows in post. Just try and not have your shadow slider go more than +80, then things start to look a little fake.

So get out there in that 1pm sunlight and make the most out of the light that people will tell you is “terrible”.