How to shoot under bright sun!

Published on 27 January 2021 at 22:50

Sun. Keeps us warm, brings us light and ruining our pictures since, well ever!

Well no more. Once you learn what about to explain below, you will never again fear the sun or get bummed if you have to shoot under harsh light.


Get your notepads and your cameras and let's start!

The first and easiest technique that I use is the following:

  1. I make sure to spot something to obstract the sun, but not completly, not to hide the sun completly, just to be there, covering a part of it.

This will help in 2 ways:

  • will help you create the sunray effect
  • will minimize the light in your frame

2. Now lets see the settings that we will use.

  • ISO: as low as possible
  • Apperture: anything above f11
  • Shutter speed: as needed to compensate for the proper exposure

Now make sure that your exposure setting is on Matrix (for Nikon users), Evaluative ( for Canon users) or Multi for Sony users.

3. Next aim for a shadow part of your frame. Not the darkest, but also not the sky. Then make the click. Don't worry that the shadows are dark and you cant see details or if the sky is blown out.

4. Now lets open our editing app. I prefer to use Lightroom , but it will be the same in any platform, since our adjustments are going to be pretty basic. Your RAW file will look something like this:

The shadows are harsh and the left corner kind of over blown. Let's see how to correct this in 6 steps!

You will need to do 6 things:

  • Icrease the contrast
  • Decrease the highlights
  • Increase the shadows
  • Decrease the whites
  • Decrease the blacks
  • Increase the brightness very little

That way you will have enough details from the shadows the blown highlights are gonna get some shape and be minimilized and you will have enough contrast in your image.

All these depend on your editing style ofcourse, you might like it as it is or whatever. But with these adjustments you will be able to attain the most details out of your picture.


A simillar effect can be achieved with gradient filters on lightroom, but this is available on the paid version, so i won't go over it, leave a comment below if you want some tips about that.

A second technique is to use ND gradient filters.


These, simply put are like degrade sunglases for your camera. The dark part will make the sky and sun darker, so they won't be overblown and at the same time will have no affect on the other half, making it able for you to capture the details in the shadows.


They can be used in various situations and help you be creative with long exposure shots that will give another feeling to your pictures.

More about filters on a later post.

Bear in mind though that these come with a price, usually high since you are going to need the adaptor to fit them in your lens and the filters themself that aren't cheap. It also take time to set them up and will take more space in your bag, so choose carefully.

The third technique, aplies mostly to small subjects and portraits.

Using a reflector/difuser, comes quite handy when shooting in bight sun.

You can use it to create a shadow, or to diffuse the light and make it softer on your subject. They are easy to carry , pretty inexpensive but you will probably need some one to help you by holding them.

You can find them here for under 30$.  

Last but not least, some general tips that will make your life easy are:

  • Always have your lenshood on the lens to avoid as much as possible excessive flaring, unless thats what you are going for.
  • Look for shadows to create cotrnast and minimize the light.
  • Use anything in your disposal to diffuse the light, like trees or windows, or anything that you can find, that will help you create some shadow.
  • Don't shoot under bright sunlight. Plan your shooting and go either during golden hour or during blue hour. But if you have to or you won't have another chance, try to utilise these tips to make the most out of our shot.

Did you find this usefull?

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