Let’s face it, while it would be nice to only go out and get our photos at Golden Hour or Blue Hour. Most of us are not going to wake up that early and sunsets at certain locations are full of people. Sometimes we have to get our shots in the middle of the day. When the sun is high in the sky and casts some nasty shadows on our subjects.
Now if you are anything like me, you don’t have some of the most epic locations near-by. Chances are you are going on a road trip to visit these places. Plus some places don’t open till well after sunrise and close before sunset so it only gives you a chance to get that shot in the middle of the day.
Fear not though! There are some things you can do that can help improve your photos that you are shooting in the harsh conditions that can be found in the middle of the day.
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Use a Neutral Density Filter
A Neutral Density filter (ND) is a landscape photographers best friend for many reasons. One if helps give you that motion in the clouds or silky smooth water. The other thing an ND filter helps is control the light going into your camera. Basically, a ND filter is a pair of sunglasses for your camera.
ND filters are not just for landscape photographers either. Any photography style can benefit from using an ND filter during the day (Trying to find a photography style that fits you? Check out these 25 niches that you will love). You just need to find the right one that works for you. There are many different ones out there. Personally, I like a variable ND filter. It helps me easily adjust when I am out taking photos.
Watch for clouds
Completely blue skies are boring. I tend to get either a cloudless day or a cloudy day. It seems like I rarely get a day that has those beautiful puffy white clouds. If you are lucky enough to be outdoors and shooting when there are clouds in the sky. Do yourself a favor and be patient.
If you wait for one of those clouds to move in front of the sun you will be left with fabulous lighting conditions. It is like the world’s biggest softbox. Just keep snapping away until the sun returns.
Keep the sun at THEIR back not yours
Back in the old film days, it was an unwritten rule to keep the sun at your back. Remember there was no preview and you had to develop the film before you found out how your pictures came out. Today we don’t have that problem. However, we do have to deal with our subjects squinting or having their eyes completely shut.
To solve that problem just have the sun to their back. Now the only person squinting is you and not the person you are photographing. If you use a ND filter, it can help with cutting down the harsh light from a midday sun.
Also try to use the live preview on your camera instead of looking through the eyepiece. You never want to look directly at the sun. Using live view greatly reduces the risk of staring at the sun.
Take the action shot
Do you know one of the good things about shooting in the midday sun? You can use a faster shutter speed to catch those action shots. You won’t need to jack up the ISO. You should have no problem keeping your aperture at f8 with a fast shutter speed, ensuring you get everything in focus and freeze the action.
Use the Lens hood
Use the lens hood when you are out shooting at midday. It can help with reducing lens flares, which can wreak havoc on your photos. It’s a good idea to have the lens hood with you when you go out for a midday photoshoot. Don’t just leave it at home.
Grab a Polarizer
Using a polarizing filter can solve many problems you might come across when shooting in midday. For one, it will help darken those bright blue skies. If there are clouds in the sky, it will help really make them pop.
A polarizing filter can also help cut down on reflections. It will cut reflections on water and on glass. The only time you shouldn’t be using a polarizing filter when shooting in midday is when you are using an ND Filter. Other than that, you should have it on. You will be happy with the results.
When shooting a midday landscape, bracketing is the way to go. This way you can take a couple of photos with different exposure settings to come up with the best overall image. Sometimes, no matter what you do, some areas of your scene will either be over or under exposed.
Bracketing helps solve this problem. Of course, you will need to use a tripod, so you are taking the same image each time. Then all you need to do is take a photo and adjust your exposure so each area (background, foreground, subject, ect.) is correctly exposed. Than just blend them together for the perfect photo.
Just because it is the middle of the day doesn’t mean you can’t go out and get great photographs. You will read all over the place not to waste your time going out and taking pictures in the middle of the day. While it is true that midday is possibly the worst time to go and get photos of the location you are at. Sometimes it is the only time you have free time to go out and do it.
Plus some places don’t open till 8 or 9 am so it is not like you can go early in the morning and get those epic sunrises. Like with everything else we have to make best with the tools that we have available to us. Midday shooting can be fun and you never know what you might get. Just follow our tips from above and you too will get some truly stunning images.
Using a combination of the tips above will help improve your midday photos. Are you only able to get out in the middle of the day? What kind of luck have you had? Let us know in the comments below. Looking for more photography help? We have some great guides for you to check out. We have a Guide on Composition, a Long Exposure Guide, Travel Photography tips, and much more.
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