Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Why would anyone want to do that? All the books we read and almost anyone we talk to will warn us against doing that! Well, let's rethink that notion.

I don't like to simply photograph what my eyes see, even if I am totally satisfied with the results. Do I do that? Yes, of course, we all do that. However, I do not want to limit myself. To do so would be like going into a recording studio to record thirteen songs and they all have the same beat, cadence, and sound. I like to mix it up as i go along, and that includes shooting against the sun. 

One of the biggest concerns for most people is that we might pick up some nasty flare--those weird odd colored shapes in our images. Those can either be fixed through photo editing, or I leave them in for added drama and mystery. Imperfections sometimes make for the perfect look, feel, or interpretation.

Here are a few examples of what I love to do sometimes.

It was just barely after sunrise at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden. I walked around looking for something to do with the rising sun, when I saw it peak out of one of the windows of the caboose--yes!

The sun can add interest and intrigue to an otherwise common or mundane scene.
It's the exclamation point to an already good scene. Note what it did to the trees
as well.  

My goal one morning was to get a good early sunrise shot of the Fort Worth, Texas skyline, as I walked along the bed of a dried up creek. I always look behind me periodically, to make sure I'm not missing anything. I'm glad I did that morning. I created "Morning Has Broken" that morning. I used an FLD filter to get this mood. 

Driving east one early morning along the northwest Arkansas Ozarks, I saw the sun coming up. I just had to stop. It was a cool foggy morning when I saw the sun and the fog-covered valley. For larger light sources, like the sun, I use small f/stops in order to get the sun burst. I used f/25 that morning---not because I needed it for my depth-of-field, but to get the sun burst. 

That was my day for sun bursts. That same morning I saw this! The placement of the sun, within the composition is key. If I place it off to the side or near the corners (Rule of Thirds), it gives me more room to play with, in terms of my overall composition.

I switched my White Balance to Florescent to get this nice moody blue feel to the scene.
I did the same to the scene above.  

Usually, I like to hide the strong sun behind something, like a building, or trees as I did for this autumn scene in Colorado.

This is probably the most dramatic image I have created while shooting against the sun. A total silhouette of everything, including the spider and its web. A note of caution here: Never look directly at the sun. You can usually get a feel for where it is, more or less, as you look at the rest of the scene. In this case, I kept my eyes on the spider and the tree, knowing that the sun was somewhere near the tree on the upper left--again, the Rule of Thirds.

So, as you can see, we can take advantage of the sun and use it to add to our compositions and our interpretations of life. It's not our enemy, but rather our creative aesthetics ally.

Go out there and experiment, test it out, and loosen up. You don't have to try to be perfect, but be perfect at trying. E-mail me if you have any questions or would like a 1-on-1 field lesson.