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Photo Lighting Tip: Keep the Sun at Your Back

Updated: Aug 29, 2023


Lighting
Lighting

As a wildlife photographer, one of the most important factors to consider when taking photos is the lighting. The direction and quality of light can make or break a photo. In particular, having the sun at your back can have a significant impact on the final result.



When the sun is behind you, the light falls on the subject from the front, illuminating it evenly and bringing out its colors and textures. This makes for a much more vibrant and lifelike photo than if the subject is backlit or in shadow. It also reduces the risk of harsh shadows or blown-out highlights, which can occur when the subject is lit from the side or front.


In wildlife photography, having the sun at your back is particularly important because animals are often on the move. If you're trying to capture a fast-moving subject like a bird or a deer, you need to be able to react quickly and get the shot before the animal moves out of the frame. With the sun at your back, you're more likely to get a clear shot without any distracting shadows or glare.



Another advantage of having the sun at your back is that it allows you to capture the subject's eyes in a natural and appealing way. The eyes are often referred to as the "window to the soul" and can make or break a wildlife photo. When the subject is facing the sun, its eyes are naturally lit up, making them more visible and expressive.


Of course, there are times when shooting with the sun at your back isn't possible or desirable. For example, when shooting during the golden hours (the hour after sunrise and before sunset), you may want to experiment with backlighting to create a more dramatic and atmospheric effect. Similarly, shooting into the sun can produce stunning silhouettes and rim lighting effects.



Having the sun at your back can be a game-changer in wildlife photography. It can help you capture vibrant, lifelike photos with clear details and expressive eyes. It also allows you to react quickly to fast-moving subjects and reduces the risk of harsh shadows or blown-out highlights. So, next time you head out into the wild with your camera, be sure to position yourself with the sun at your back and see the difference it makes.



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