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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Breaking the Rules About LIght

One of the first rules for family snapshots is to have the sun coming over your shoulder, and make sure peoples' faces are in the sun.  Who hasn't tried not to squint in a family photo!  But 'breaking the rules about light' is one of the handiest techniques I use for certain pictures.

Shooting into the light, though perhaps at a bit of an angle so you're not looking straight into the sun, brings out the best in fall leaves.  This is a sumach in our front yard.

Even in the summer, you can show off leaves and flowers by shooting them into the sun.  You just have to find a way to hide the camera's actual lens from being directly in line with the sun so you don't get flaring.

I do this in the winter by simply finding the shadow of a tree trunk.  By positioning the camera so it's in the shadow, I can get a much more interesting picture than shooting the other direction.

The same applied here, though shooting at a bit more of an angle to the sun.  But the frost on the trees shows up wonderfully with the sun sparkling through it.

Sunrises like this one the other day, and sunsets are of course the other time you shoot pictures directly into the sun.  If the sun is below the horizon or behind clouds, you're safe, but otherwise you can get those flares from the sun if you're not careful.  The vertical flare from the sun here was what I actually photographed, not a camera flare.

This was just a lucky shot, on a canoe trip further north several years ago.  The sun wasn't up far enough to reach where I was standing, but was shining through the mist further out on the lake.  I've found by experience though, that you often need to adjust the exposure to get the sunrise or sunset pictures you want.  So tomorrow I'll talk about how I moved off the 'Auto' setting, and learned to set exposures.


  1. The last photo is a cool example of what you were trying to tell us.

  2. Wow, these are all lovely images.. I love the red on the first shot, simply beautiful. And the row of frosty trees are gorgeous.. And I love the foggy lake scene, very pretty lighting.. . Have a happy weekend!

  3. Excellent examples. That use of the tree trunk in casting shadows works very well indeed, as does the lake and the fog.

  4. Beautiful photos and more great tips. Thanks.

  5. Some of my best photos are of backlit leaves and snow features. Thanks for the tips!

  6. Oh my favorite is the frosted trees.

  7. You've chosen some excellent photos to illustrate your points, something which photo magazines and books sometimes overlook.

  8. These are glorious! I especially favor the frosty trees photo and the last photo

  9. Hi there, We are back from ANOTHER trip. This time we were in Georgia checking out yet another waterfall... Check my blog today when you get a chance.

    Gorgeous shots. I love photos where the light is just perfect....

    Have a great weekend.

  10. Checked your blog this morning; I love all those waterfalls you find! But today I was more impressed with the 640 steps!

  11. I'll bet I shoot into the light as much or more than following the rule.