View Full Version : How do you deal with overly bright sunny days?!
Hi all! I have been asked to help shoot a wedding over the weekend. Not the official portraits but just a photo documentary about the day (since we all arrive in the middle of nowhere on a train!). However New Zealand is the land of unpredictable weather and knowing my luck the conditions will be bright when I am praying for overcast. This got me thinking about how to handle this. There is always backlighting the subject which I love to do with film but can you give me any other suggestions? I will be shooting on a leica m6ttl so fill flash is kinda out of the question
Your best bet for high contrast lighting is to make sure your light meter is aimed lower, to not include the sky. (aim the camera lower to have the center of the frame on your subject). Yes, the sky will be blown out, but, that is not your subject anyway. Here, you need make sure your subjects are correctly exposed 1st and foremost.
You should try some test shots with a friend in a similar situation of lighting, and see how it goes 1st.
Pray for overcast skies.... like a huge studio diffused light.
You could use a polarizer , but not sure how much help it will be.
For back-lit subjects, move in close to meter just the person, then, move back to compose and shoot. Yes, the BG will be blown out...
Fill-flash is the way the way to go. Set the flash at minus 1.5 or 2 stops and go for it. If there is a pro shooting the wedding he'll be really p____ed off at you , which of course is half the fun.
Meter incident, on sun AND with the sun in front of you, so when you can't avoid a shot in this second case, you know how to set speed/aperture... I would use two bodies to develop both situations differently... (some other shots will be in the shadows, without sun).
I would carry a DSLR with a zoom and two SLRs with a wide and a short tele: I haven't shot a wedding with RFs (yet...)
Mostly I try to avoid taking photos in these conditions - the results are seldom good especially if using digital technology. (Australian summers are hell for photographers.) If I have to I will set the exposure compensation to under expose as its a tad easier to deal with lost shadows than blown highlights. (At least they look better in the image if you are stuck with them) If I am shooting a person I may use on camera flash to balance the exposure a bit more. Most modern flashes do this pretty well, but I always set the output to low as I do not want the flash to over power the scene.I have also been known to use a polarizer to cut reflections (this helps a little). I have seldom used a HDR approach but have decided to try it a bit more in future. Oh and a couple of other things - set your (digital) camera to low contrast as the last thing you want in a high contast shooting condition is more contrast in your camera settings. And finally digital - always shoot RAW this helps manage a bit too.
...friends say to me 'oh you can always come back here and shoot that landscape another time' while I know that today will be the only overcast day in the next 9 months. Twilight does not exist so if the sun is out and the light and shadows are just too harsh, youre out of luck...
(Australian summers are hell for photographers.)
Ain't that the truth ... the amount of times I've wanted to take photos outdoors and have reneged on the idea because of the extreme Oz light on clear days is amazing. :bang:
I'd go with the fill flash idea to try and avoid blown out backgrounds which will not look good for these types of shots.
<snip>I will be shooting on a leica m6ttl so fill flash is kinda out of the question
You can shoot fill flash with any camera that has adjustable shutter and aperture.
I don't know how any TTL flash works as I still use Vivitar 283/285's. I can always make them output the amount light I want them to. They are great for fill as are many others.
You can get perfectly balanced fill flash using any manually adjustable camera and any flash with controllable output, either via thyristor or manually adjusting the output. It requires a small amount of brain usage, but not much. There has to be a lot of on line tutorials on non-TTL fill flash.
Slow film and/or a neutral density filter?
Slowest film you can find, and whatever flash fill is possible with the M6.
Photographers in India have always had to deal with harsh sunlight. There were simple techniques in the B&W days.
seriously, hazy days and overly bright days are very tough shooting conditions. I prefer more normal days for picture taking.
overexpose and underdevelop. do several test rolls asap. it helps if you bulk load film yourself, to put just a few shots on each roll.
Okay I should say that I have a SB-26 to borrow If I need, unfortunately film is expensive and hard to find in this country so Im restricted to fujifilm 400h which I rate at 200 and a couple of rolls of ektar I have managed to find. If worse comes to worse then I can use my Nikon FE2 which has a flash sync at 250. Can anyone tell me if it has ttl which the SB-26?
You could also use a large reflector to put light on their faces instead of flash.
My FE2 does TTL with my SB-15, so I imagine the SB-26 should have the same technology.
Call me a deviant, but given that you're event documentarian, not the official portrait shooter, I'd stop worrying about all these harsh lighting issues and just go with it. Get what you can and enjoy it for the interest it has. Personally, I find overcast days to destroy my morale for shooting because I find the even light so boring. Harsh sunlight can be troublesome, yes, but it's got drama and more often than not I vastly prefer to have dramatic light.
If it's very contrasty, recommendations from Way Beyond Monochrome (assuming you're shooting BW) work fine for me : overexpose by 4/3 stop (I personally rate HP5 at 160 in this case) and underdevelop by 30% from manufacturer's recommendations.
This is so good a starting point that I keep on it.
Ain't that the truth ... the amount of times I've wanted to take photos outdoors and have reneged on the idea because of the extreme Oz light on clear days is amazing.
Just recently we finally had a very overcast stormy day, after seemingly months of blinding sunshine, so I raced out with an evil FM3A in hand and took a bunch of shots of foreboding clouds. A nice change from sweltering under harsh sun...
Never had a problem - but it does take work. SLR is the way to go (for me) because I use:
1. Circ polarizer.
2. Two stop, four stop, and 10 stop grad filter to handle sky where it is above the subject matter. (you really need TTL viewfinding to make this work. Otherwise, straight ND filters to get you to within some reasonable f-stops range so you can control DOF.
3. A collapsible step-stool so as to be able to immediately change shooting height.
4. Various strobes. I've used Nikon SB-E with film and Canon G9 and an SB-600 with a diffuser and front-curtain AE or manual - depending. Keep your set up simple, ie two bodies max, and, despite the reduced dynamic range, digitial is the way to go here. Even as a reference "light meter" a P&S works great. Stick your grad filter in front to reduce the math.
Oh. Extra batteries for the strobes. Lots. Cheapest insurance.
I'm not a wedding photographer, but I've shot other things in similar conditions.
I would suggest a lower-speed color negative film, such as the various ISO 100 types.
If possible, pose the subjects to make the most of the natural high-key lighting.
As suggested, use a fill flash so you don't bury the darker details down in the mud. I used fill flash this morning when doing some shots of the local flooding in otherwise bright sunlight.
Reflectors can help, if they are practical in your situation.
Oh, almost forgot. Bracket! :)
The same issue here. I'm going to LA in a couple weeks to do some portraits in urban areas and will have to deal with a flat and harsh sunlight. I'm not really a strobe kind of guy, so a reflector may be helpful.
Does anybody have other ideas how to take some good pictures in Southern California? :) Would be really appreciated.
take your usual film+dev combo as a starting point, then rate the film one stop lower, and cut back on development 15%.
that's if you're in the sun. if you find a nice spot somewhere with directional diffused light, do your regular thing.
Expose for the highlights develop for the shadows ?
I would strongly advise against using the slowest fim you can find as these generally have the highest contrast and are the most finicky in terms of controlling contrast in variable conditions.
I would recommend either FP4+ or HP5+. Pulling the latter always gives me exceptional results. If you have time to test, you should conisdeer pulling HP5+ in a speed shedding developer if you are worried about the possibility of maxing out at your fastest shutter speed. HP5+ in Perceptol 1+1 would be a great combo as it is not mushy but crisp, has wonderful tonality and the speed will be about 160-200 in normal use and probably about 125-160 if pulled significantly depending on contrast.
HP5+ pulls nicely in Xtol for avge contrast negs from high contrast scenes but this dev makes good speed and might not be ideal therefore.
Steer welllllll clear of the adox/Efke 25/50/Pan F type films. Fine in when spot metering and doing the zone system but a nightmare for variable shooting like a wedding party.
as luck would have it, the weather has just turned to cr...p. If it is over the easter long w/end even better as the weather is always es-ach -eye- tee then. Slow film/filters would be my pick if the weather changes.
I agree with what has been posted, polariser and fill flash do the job for me.
Live in Seattle. Problem solved.
Bring ISO 50 or 100/125 and ISO 400 and be prepared to push/pull some of each if you have to. Fast lenses also help if it suddenly goes dim when you have 50 loaded…
Try to use films that're forgiving on exposure and react well to push/pull developing - you can worry about the rest when printing, just keep as much detail as you can on the negative.
It'll probably take too long to setup a polariser every time so don't bother.
Tri-X for latitude with high contrast light, red filter to darken sky and tame the f32 @ 1/2000 light level. Go with the harsh light, don't try to fake it away. Aim for a contrasty gritty look.
vBulletin® v3.6.8, Copyright ©2000-2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.