What To Do When Shooting In Harsh/Tough Light

Having been to the Masai Mara a couple of times, it inspired me to write this blog on - What To Do When Shooting In Harsh/Tough Light. The reason I want to chat about about this, is because it is a topic that comes up all the time when out on safari and there are many safaris out there, not just the Masai Mara where you spend majority of the day out in the field. This means, you won't always have ideal golden light as you do in the early morning and late afternoon, but of coarse you want to maximize your time out in the field. As a photographer, this can become quite tough and tricky to manage at times due to the light.

Having said the above, I am a firm believer in that there is always a way to combat the light, whether it is harsh light, low light or just tough light in general. Don't get me wrong, I am all for shooting in golden light with a great subject, but how does that grow on you as a photographer? Especially, when it comes to photography outside of the ''golden hour''.

Personally, I love black and white images. There is just something different about a good black and white picture, either emphasizing the mood or intensifying emotion.

Im sure you can see where I am going with this blog? Have you ever been out during the heat of the day? looking for different subjects to spend some time with and photograph? Once you have found something, you pick up your camera, take a picture and find yourself disappointed with the result?

Looking at the image you have just taken, it seems to have very high contrast, blown out backgrounds or visa versa and just doesn't look that great. Sometimes, it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the conditions and light available. We need to think outside the box and utilize the conditions at hand, it may be a more artistic image that is available and by recognizing these different conditions can often give you a result which is very pleasing to the eye.

As I have mentioned above, I really enjoy using black and white images when the color version doest quite catch my eye. A few things I  generally look out for when looking to convert an image from colour to black and white are as follows:

  • Harsh light
  • Textures and patterns
  • Heavy contrast
  • Flat colour images
  • Individual colour tones - once converted to B&W playing with individual colour sliders can often get an image to ''pop''.

I have been talking quite bit about photography during the middle of the day, the rules - rather the guidelines above can be used at anytime. Whether you are shooting a bird or an animal in a tree or using a spotlight under the cover of darkness, the guidelines will give you a great starting point when utilizing tough light conditions to get a desired result you are looking for and ultimately an image that you really like, which you may have tossed away or overlooked in the past.

I challenge you to go through past images(if you still have them) and work them in post processing using the above guidelines and see what you can come up with, even if it is just one image, it is still worth it and at the end of the day; it is a new beginning on becoming a better photographer.

What To Do When Shooting In Harsh/Tough Light
What To Do When Shooting In Harsh/Tough Light

I hope that you found this blog useful and although their are plenty of other techniques that you can use to combat light, this is one that I have found very useful when I have been faced with tough light out on safari.

Until next time,

Trevor

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