Shoot against the sun

Street portrait of a red haired girl backlit by the setting sun
1/200 sec – f/4 – ISO 1600 – 100mm

I’m sure you have witnessed those situations, where people wanting to take a portrait of someone else place their subject to have the sun shining directly onto them. Because it looks nice. Objects look sharp, crisp and colorful when the sun shines on them. That’s definitely valid for landscapes, buildings and stationary things. It’s less favorable for human beings. Because they tend to squint when facing the sun, and you get unfavorable shadows in their eye sockets, especially when the sun is high.

It’s much for flattering when you place your human subjects with their backs to the sun. The lighting on their face is more even, and you get this wonderful rim light around their body and especially around their hair. You just have to make sure you take your exposure metering directly from their faces in order to achieve natural skin tones. Try it next time, it’s much simpler than you think.

The photograph was taken with my Olympus OM-D E-M1X and the mZuiko 12-100mm F/4.

If you look for more tips and inspirations around photography, check out me free Learning Center.

Have a great Thursday!


Related Posts:

Street Photography Quick Tip 15 – Get close for more intense street portraits

Instant Inspiration (20) – Backlit Fountain

Finding your photographic style

Instant Inspiration (3) – Silhouettes

23 thoughts on “Shoot against the sun

Add yours

    1. No it doesn’t. Actually, the ISO increased to 1600 as it really was getting dark in the streets. I was already at my lowest f-stop (f4) and in order to keep the shutter speed at acceptable levels (to freeze the motion of moving people) I had to increase the ISO.

  1. beautiful portraiture and amazing colors! I like how the background is blurred and seems to offer variations of her hair color.

  2. I noticed your b&w photos were shot in mostly ISO 200. This one is ISO 1600. How did you know what setting you wanted to use? Thanks, Marcus.

    1. I shoot my street stuff mostly in P mode with Auto-ISO capped at 1600. As this was late afternoon and the cam saw the shutter speed endangered, it cranked up the ISO. I let the machine do the work, I‘m focusing on getting the shot instead of fumbling with the settings. I just monitor if all shooting parameters are within acceptable limits to achieve the look I‘m after! Marcus

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: