Should you shoot towards the sun !

Autumn at Westonbirt Arboretum

One supposed rule in landscape photography (or for that matter any outdoor shooting), is –

“Shoot with the sun behind you – don’t shoot into the sun”

But in many cases it can produce a much more interesting result if you do, and if you follow a few guidelines.

This is a technique I use regularly for woodland and single tree shots, such as the one below which was taken on a frosty morning, with the sun low in the sky. The tree trunk and branches are silhouetted and shafts of light can be seen coming through the branches.

Low sun through tree on a frosty morning.

The technique is simply to ‘hide’ the sun behind a tree trunk or branch. This can produce interesting lighting effects but also highlights the textures in the ground, especially if it’s covered in fallen leaves, frost (as above), snow etc.

Various trees shot against the sun.

In each of these images, shooting into the low sun has produced long shadows, which can also produce a ‘lead in’ to the rest of the image.

One area to be careful of though is exposure metering. Taking a simple reading from the entire scene can fool the metering completely. Two options are :-

  • take a reading from the foreground as that is often the key area to want detail in,
  • take multiple shots (bracketing exposures) and combine as a High Dynamic Range (HDR) image. This can be done quite easily in Photoshop, Lightroom etc.

There are more examples of similar scenes on my web site at photography.colinrayner.org.uk.

One word of caution though !  Of course it is very dangerous to look at the sun either with the naked eye or even through a viewfinder. So if shooting towards the sun, BE VERY CAREFUL !

So, is this a technique you use or would use ?

What is your experience ?


 

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