Saturday, July 24, 2010

Including the sun

click photo to enlarge
My earliest photographic tuition came in the form of a free booklet from Kodak that gave tips for securing better images. I must have been about sixteen years of age and had recently acquired my first camera when I read it. This slight tome, smaller than A5, with its yellow and red cover, listed the usual advice - photograph with the sun behind you, don't tilt the camera up or down if you want to avoid converging verticals, don't place a person in the dead centre but look for a balanced asymmetrical composition, etc. It was, by and large, sound advice for the beginner photographer. As I progressed with my photography, however, I came to see that these rules were best seen as useful guidance that should sometimes be ignored.

The piece of advice that I've most frequently disregarded was the injunction to "keep the sun out of the viewfinder (except at sunrise and sunset)". The advent of digital has found me frequently, deliberately, including the sun for the dramatic quality that it gives to the image. Why has digital encouraged me in this regard? Well, I can have immediate feedback on the camera's LCD of the effect that I've captured. And, the processing of digital images on a computer has given me much more control over the final output. Moreover, with the cost of each digital exposure being, essentially, "free" (certainly compared with film), there is much more scope for experimentation with a subject that produces more "duds" than many others.

Today's photograph was taken towards sunset over the Lincolnshire Fens. The sky, however, didn't have that red/orange sunset feel; the sun itself was still quite white. But, there were thin clouds veiling it, and the brightness was enough to illuminate the heads of the long grass alongside the lane we were walking down. I thought they would make good foreground interest in an image of the flat landscape with its wind turbines and electricity pylons, and I hoped that the inclusion of the sun would add its own drama too. And, with a little post-processing, so it proved.

This earlier blog post also considers deiberately including the sun in your photographs.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 12.8mm (60mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f4
Shutter Speed: 1/1000
ISO: 80
Exposure Compensation: -0.66 EV
Image Stabilisation: On