Quick Tip: Shoulder to the Sun

by | Jul 17, 2020 | Tips & Tricks | 0 comments

Last night, I was putting together a training video about the different times of day and how they relate to photography. If you’ve done much photography, you’ll know that each time of day offers the photographer something completely different to explore!

Anyway, I came across these three photos from my archives that illustrated a concept that I thought was pretty interesting since they were all taken in the same basic location.

The concept is, when shooting under direct light, pictures will typically have more pleasing contrast in them if you’re shooting with your shoulder to the sun. For example:

130906_James Staddon_3733 Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 24 mm, 1-60 sec at f - 8.0, ISO 100

I like this picture. There’s a lot of beautiful texture. I don’t think I was intentionally thinking “Hmm, this scene is going to look nice because my shoulder is to the sun.” No, I was just looking around and this scene caught my eye. It caught my eye because there was more contrast than looking away from the sun and more clarity than looking toward the sun.

130906_James Staddon_3729 Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 24 mm, 1-25 sec at f - 8.0, ISO 100

I didn’t take the time to make this shooting-toward-the-sun photo work. It can be fantastic angle, though, allowing you to incorporate artistic lens flare or get dramatic back lighting. But it’s more challenging to make it work. But it’s usually easier to make it work than the flat light you get with your back to the sun.

130906_James Staddon_3730 Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 28 mm, 1-60 sec at f - 8.0, ISO 100

Really, I’m not exactly sure why I took this shot. Smile I think the path leading through the rocks and all the interesting textures are what caught my attention. But since the light was coming from directly behind me, there are no shadows to help the viewer see the texture. When there are no shadows, you don’t really notice the texture. I probably saw it when I was there, but photos are not three dimensional.

So, nothing magical about “shooting with your shoulder to the sun, just a thought that’s kinda handy to have tucked away in the back of my mind.

And here’s the view with my other shoulder facing the sun. It was a pretty fantastic place. These photos were taken awhile ago, but I thought this one would make for a nice, hot summer desktop background. Smile

130906_James Staddon_3716 W

No Resting Place

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, San Diego, California

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