View Full Version : Bright daytime photography

07-06-2005, 09:23 PM
Last year I attened Comiket in the summer, and it was really bright outside, the middle of the day (10am-3pm). I thought I read somewhere that one should face the sun to get rid of the crazy shadows, but this makes me squint really bad.

Any advice for posing in the bright outdoors? Which way should I try to face? Tilt head up or down? That type of thing.

Also, since I may be wearing a hat (wide straw brim), this will cast shadows, I'm sure of it. Should I remove the hat for photos? Would facing the sun be better than not facing it?

I'm also going to be taking a few photos at comiket. I'm no pro, just photos for fun/to remember events, but I can use this advice to maoever myself to a better vantage point to take slightly better/more flattering pictures. Should I take pictures from lower down, or usual standing height if outside on a bright day?

Sorry for the really newbie sounding post... I'm not good at posing, I'd like some decent photos to come out of the next Comiket, and I'd like to help the photogs as best I can (language barrier and all). At the end of the month, I'd like to do some practice shots trying out the advice (if any is given), so we'll see how that goes. I just wanted a starting point and an opinion that is much more well informed than mine.

This type of info would probably help others attending summer conventions where lots of outdoor photos are being taken. I thank you all in advance.

07-06-2005, 11:03 PM
The rule of the model facing the sun is something that's important to help out the photographer as opposed to the model. Unless a photographer is specifically trying to shoot a sunset or some other sun-related event, it behooves them to shoot with their backs to the sun so that the light will illuminate the subject and prevent glare. Unfortunately, that can be difficult for the model if they're left squinting into the sky.

Some suggestions:
~ try to look away from the sun to avoid squinting. Perhaps downcast eyes or looking sideways will help.

~ Generally it is more flattering to photograph later in the day, if possible. I try to do all my photoshoots in the late afternoon, when the sunlight is warmer (rather than harsh), and more forgiving on both my eyes and my figure. Also, colors seem to stand out more in the later afternoon when the sun can't wash them out.

~ Cloudy days also make for good photographs. The lack of sun makes colors brighter (and its easy on the eyes!)

~ As for shadows from the hat: many cameras have a function which will componsate for backlighting or shadowy subjects. Even a simple flash will help adjust for the shadows cast by your hat, and facing the sun will aid as well.

~ For posing, a natural look is generally best. Its nice if you can imitate the character, and you can pose in front of a mirror to practice if you'd like, but a comfortable, natural pose can work just as well. Try interacting with the scenery if you can; find an interesting background and try sitting, leaning, examining something, ect. Posing is something I think comes with practice; I still have a long way to go, but the more often I do photoshoots, the more comfortable I am with it and am able to have a better sense of what might look good. Trial and error and all that.

~ Its a similar thing with angles. A good photographer can advise you better on what angles look best for you, because they're the ones who can really see the shot. However, play around with them, and over time you'll get a sense for what looks best for you. For instance, I look terrible when shot from below, so I hardly ever have a pic taken from the ground. However, pics taken from above are more flattering, so I play with that angle sometimes.

Good luck!

- Shiva

07-07-2005, 09:27 AM
As Shiva said, force flash or fill flash (if you have it) are the best things to use when dealing with unwanted shadows caused by hats.

07-07-2005, 05:20 PM
Yah, I was at Winter Comiket last year and had the same problems with the sun. I still took a bunch of pictures anyway, but a lot of them didn't turn out.

Here's a small sampling of photos that turned out ok, despite the sun:

As people have mentioned above, using a fill flash can help get rid of those annoying shadows.

What I do if it is too bright, is actually have them face away from the sun and then use a fill flash to light them. This way they aren't back light (and just turn out black for the photo) and they aren't squinting. It's still not great, but it works out ok sometimes.

This was also an issue at AX where it was super bright outside durning the noon time hours. What we ended up doing with some of the people was telling them to go ahead and close their eyes. We would then do a count down to let them know when we were taking a picture, then they could open their eyes wide and not squint just for the picture.

It's not a perfect solution, but it works sometimes. Good luck, maybe I'll see you at Winter Comiket this year. :>

07-07-2005, 11:19 PM
One trick I use with my models if it is really bright outside is to have them keep their eyes closed. Then I count down, 3 - 2 - 1, and have them open their eyes on 1 and then snap the picture. That way, their eyes aren't all squinty, and they don't hate me.
Best thing to do tho is to find some spot that is shaded. Unless you're out in the desert, it should be pretty easy to find some shade behind a wall, or under a tree. You may still have to use a flash or a reflector to counter the bright background.

Heres one of mine from about a year ago that was taken on a super bright day, at around noon.


07-08-2005, 01:11 AM
I prefer to move the subject into a shaded area or have the subject face away from the sun. I'm actually one of those people who don't like using fill flash and without a reflector my best option would be to spot meter the person's face. There's a good chance of blowing the background but the effect is minimized if most of the background's fairly dark.

07-08-2005, 01:34 AM
For those on SLRs, fill flash during daylight can be tricky on some cameras, since using the flash can restrict the fastest speed you can shoot. I was using fill flash during mid-day at AX, but the camera I use has a flash x-sync limit of 1/200th of a second, so I couldn't shoot a picture any faster than that with the flash on. If you're outside of an automatic mode, that can get really annoying when you're trying to get a nice portrait in the sunlight (slow shutter speed in bright daylight = stopping down the lens further = more depth of field = too much background).

I still used the flash, but I was forced to use a neutral density filter (gray filter) on my lens. I think I might have to start going gmontem's way and just go strictly flashless for conventions. Background be darned.

07-08-2005, 02:00 AM
The one thing to consider is that, at least with my experience at Comiket, you might not have the option of moving somewhere else.

There is a cosplay area that is packed to the gills with people and sometimes there is no where else to go to take a picture. Now in a more controlled environment like a private shoot or somewhere more open like AX, moving is a much better way to go. :)

07-08-2005, 07:29 AM
use a neutral density filter (gray filter)

Oh yeah, flash synch, I'll remember to pack my ND filter for outside shoots in case it's needed.

07-08-2005, 10:10 PM
I think the technical term is "you are f*cked." :-)

Seriously, all are good suggestions, but best of all is to follow gmontem's advice and move into the shade. For a newbie with no idea what the heck is fill flash, ND filter, etc., at least try putting the Sun to the side so neither of you has the Sun in the eyes would be a good start.

07-09-2005, 08:29 PM
Wow, thanks everyone!

I'll try some of these out when I do a test myself at the end of the month, but unfortunately, for Comiket, as Ziggy mentioned, moving anywhere or waiting for later in the day just isn't an option (and there's no shade, either, it's a large open space), so I'll try to get them from the side as mentioned above and use a flash.

07-10-2005, 07:31 PM
... I think I might have to start going gmontem's way and just go strictly flashless for conventions. Background be darned.

What is this thing you keep referring to as "flash?" Is that the Macromedia thing? :-)

07-11-2005, 05:24 AM
This has probably already been said in one way or another as a suggestion, but this is my tried, tested, and true method... hehe. It may hurt your eyes a /little/, but the pictures turn out nicer.

If the model faces the direction of the sunlight, yes, there are less shadows, and it's easier for the photographer to snap the photo[s]. So, if you, the model, aren't wearing a hat, the sun is most likely going to be right in your eyes. Keep your eyes down to the ground so it doesn't bother you as much. If you're posing, get into your pose, and let the photographer get ready. Have them do a sort of countdown [Like 3, 2, 1, *snap*] so you can time exactly when to lift your sight to the camera.

Of course, this might take a little practice to time it just right and not have to squint... But after two or three tries you should be okay. Just hope the photographer has a digital camera the first couple of tries, in case you do end up squinting! Good luck!