The Fourth Key to Good Composition

The Right Light Can Make It Right.

It is best to take outdoor photographs outdoors! Duh!

Take photos of buildings and other subjects in the morning before 10 am or after 4 pm in the afternoon. The sun is at a lower angle at these times and throws more flattering light on your subject. This eliminates long deep shadows that hide details and produces images with bluer skies.

When possible have the sun be behind you bathing light on the subject.

Having the sun in front of you, left or right, or completely behind the building presents challenges.

In this shot the sun is behind the building to the left. The sun washes out the blue sky and the camera compensates for the strange light by darkening the building.

I went around to the other corner and the sun was still to the front of me and behind the building, but this viewpoint improved the shot. At this angle the camera did not have as much harsh light to make it alter the exposure drastically. The sky is still a little washed out but the building is brighter.

One trick to bring more light on your subject is to use your flash. That's right, use the flash outside during daylight! You might have to take your camera setting off automatic and manually configure the flash to fire (check your instructions). This is called Fill Flash and depending on how powerful your flash is, it will add some light to your subject during daylight hours. Fill flash also works when photographing people, especially if there is strong sunlight overhead. The flash takes away those unflattering shadows cast on the face. Try this; you will be amazed with the results.

You can also take good photos when it's overcast. The images will have less contrast, but you can see details that would get lost in the shadows. The images make good reference photos for drawing subjects and you can always add shadows on your artwork. Think about converting the image to black & white in a photo editing program because it can give the image a complete new feel.

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Produced by Jim Stilwell, all artwork copyrighted 2020