Master Class 02: Best Practices for Shooting In Full Sun

File Apr 14, 3 08 53 PM

There’s no way around it folks.  Sometimes your subject is in the harsh light of the bare-bulbed sun…and there’s nothing you can do about it.  Maybe it’s a ball game.  Maybe it’s an outdoor event (2pm outdoor weddings).

Do you just snap and hope or do you have a plan?  After this lesson, you’ll have a plan.  We’ll highlight 3 critical keys to keep in mind while shooting.  If you do these, you’ll be amazed at just how much you can salvage these images in the editing phase.

Actually, here’s the quick before/after preview so you can see where we’re headed:


Of course, I’ll take you through the edit too.

Let’s get started![hide_from accesslevel=”GRADS Charter”]


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3 Musts During the Shoot

Okay, the video points out the first two musts.  I’ve thrown in the 3rd below:

  1. Shoot at your lowest native ISO (100).
  2. Nail your histogram!  Keep it in the middle.  Don’t “expose for highlights.”  Nor for shadows.
  3. Shoot in RAW (this is crucial to be able to push shadows and pull highlights in the edit phase)

I’ll talk through these first 2 in the video.  I’ll show you my histograms.  And I’ll fire away and you’ll see every…single….shot (took FOREVER to edit this video 🙂 ).  Then I’ll show you step-by-step how to make the most of the images in Lightroom.


Okay, pipe up with questions, suggestions, and other tips!


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16 thoughts on “Master Class 02: Best Practices for Shooting In Full Sun”

  1. Great video! Can Julie come to NH and hold a reflector/diffuser for me? My husband not so helpful. Maybe you could make a spouse training video? Until then, the harsh sunlight tips will definitely help!

  2. Thanks so much Kyle, these are so helpful. As a teacher I want to give you kudos for your talent at imparting knowledge, it’s appreciated!

  3. This is amazing! I learn so much from you Kyle. Now, just being able to find the time to put into practice. Thank you so much for being a great teacher & sharing this kind of stuff with us!!

      1. Perhaps I should already know the answer to this question, but why take a shot in Aperture Priority to select settings as opposed to using the meter? What are the pros/cons? Do you wash out the background if you meter?

  4. So very helpful!!! Not every photo opportunity is out in wonderful flowery fields with amber waves of grain… like.. ever! This was keeping it real!

  5. Thank you for this video. Having two small kids most of my shooting ends up being in full sun because they won’t stay up for the golden hour time. One question that doesn’t really relate to full sun shooting though, can you tell me what your focus was set to in camera during this shoot? Were you set on single point focus? I’m struggling to get sharp focus at f/2.8 with wiggle worm kids running around.

  6. Veronica Pozuelos

    Thank you for another great lesson, Kyle! You are a great teacher and you have a beautiful family! Question – would fill flash (maybe a speedlight with a flash diffuser on it) help in this situation, or would that make the light overwhelming?

    1. Hey Veronica! Thanks much for the kind words! Yeah, a fill flash can be a good option if you have control of the scene (can get close enough to where a small speed light will actually compete with the bright sun). In this case, I was thinking of those times when you can’t really control the scene (including get close enough to effectively use an on board flash), such as a wedding or an outdoor ball game, and you just have to deal with harsh light. So in both a wedding or, say…a soccer game, a speed light won’t be able to reach far enough in this kind of bright sunlight (it’s just not powerful enough to compete with the sun unless you’re right up on the subject). If you’re close enough to the subject, a speed light on camera can work well *if done well* 🙂 . And by “well” I mean keeping the ambient scene properly exposed and then flashing *only* enough power to fill in shadows, but not enough to make it look “flashy.” Usually you’ll want to manually control the speed light and the exposure to get this all correct!

  7. I am so excited to take these classes. Thank you for providing them. How do I find the histogram on my camera? I am shooting with a Nikon D5200.

    1. Hi Robin, I’m on a Nikon D5500. To get mine I went to MENU – Playback Menu – Playback display options (select that) and then check the RGB histogram box and click OK. Then, when you are viewing an image, toggle up and down on that little dial around the OK button and it should show up. 🙂

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