Direct Sunlight and Harsh Shadows

Light Meter by Lisa K. Berton

They don’t call it the Sunshine State for nothing, so when you’re visiting Mickey’s vacation home (just where does he sleep now that Toontown Fair is gone?), take a moment to look at the lighting on your subject before hitting the shutter release button.

Here are a few examples:

The sun is brightly illuminating your friend/frenemy/family and at the same time dark shadows are cast upon him/her/them.


You have a few options to deal with the lighting:

1. Get new friends/frenemies/family.

2. Move said model(s) to a location without shadows or put him/her/them into the shadows completely. If you move your model(s) into the shade, make sure you use fill flash to brighten up the image and to remove the cyan/blue tint shadows create in photographs.

3. Get closer and/or use the camera’s zoom lens so that the shadows (depending on their location) are out of the photo. Should this be your final decision, stand so that the person of interest isn’t looking directly towards the sun. Although it’s funny to watch them squirm and eyes tear up, it’ll ruin the photo if they’re squinting or making faces.


Nowhere else to go? Use this backup plan. Tell your model(s) to close his/her/their eyes and not top open them until you count to 3.. You focus on them and when you are ready, count 1, 2, 3. The moment you see the whites of his/her/their eyes, shoot! This trick also works well on people who blink when the flash fires.


Today’s lesson is $10.00 and payable by… What? Why not? Fine! Deb says I can’t charge you. You’ll have to provide your own models, too. Have a magical day.

Come on over and “Like” my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter, my handle is lisano1.

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One Reply to “Direct Sunlight and Harsh Shadows”

  1. Hi Lisa,

    Couldn’t you also fix the shadows (at least the shadow on your subject) by lightening those portions slightly in post production?

    Lisa responds: While it is possible to do some work later on with software or in the darkroom, you should always make the effort to “get it right the first time” as my photography teachers always said. Also, not everyone edits their images or wants to do so.