Are you old enough to recite that standard photographic commandment “Thou shalt not try to take pictures at high noon”? I can hear my teacher nowÃ¢Â?Â¦.”The light is too harsh at mid-day, too contrasty”. Is that a word?…Contrasty?….
Well here are some tips to take control of the light and also take advantage of it. High noon is a great time to take pictures if you make some new rules of your own. So go ahead make some new rules, or adopt these, and take those forbidden pictures at mid-day for a whole new direction in your picture taking artistic expression.
1. Move in for what Hollywood calls the tight shots. If you move in close to your subject you can eliminate highlights and deep shadows. The resulting focus on a single, carefully composed element produces a more dramatic image with a more nuanced artistic statement. Try this on a belly button ring with just the navel and one perfectly molded hipbone in the viewfinder.
2. Back light your subject for high noon photography to give the subject a glass art effect with rim lighting on the edges. The halo effect of backlight through a rumpled mass of a little girls hair can create the illusion of a perfect angel where a savvy parent knows there is no chance for one.
3. Remember fill light, or fill flash? When you control the light with fill, you can balance the brightness of shadows in relation to high noon sunlight. Add daylight flash at something a bit less than full power to the ambient light reading. Darrell Gulin recommends -1 to -1 1/3 for mid-toned subjects and -1 Ã?Â½ for mid-tone with a fill flash to – 2/3 to -1 on the dark subjects.
4. If the day is partially cloudy you may use the cloud shadows creatively in mid-day pictures to create depth, drama and color saturation.
5. Diffusing the light with your studio diffuser, a sheet stretched on a frame or an umbrella type diffuser can improve the color and soften the hard shadow edges for meadow studies or small wildlife such as your butterfly and lady bug buddies.
6. Shadows on a bright day with perfect blue skies can cause a blue tone in your film. Use a filter or correct in the lab for this effect. Go ahead and take the picture, you can control contrast and highlights better in the shade than in the direct sun and sometimes you will like the arty effect of leaving the bluer tones in so try bracketing your shots with and without a filter.
7. Reflect some of that high noon light into a target that has a shadowed area where you want more light. Just under a log where the tiny green frog sits may be a little too shadowed to pick up detail with out the reflected light and reflecting evens out the shadows and highlights. For small subjects a piece of crumpled aluminum foil smoothed back out and pressed around a paper plate works great.
8. Reflections from building walls in narrow streets like you will find in ancient Middle East or old European cities will lend a particular glow that you can only get at mid-day. Whether you are deep in the canyons of New York or the Canyon lands of the Colorado River the ideal time for photographing is just at high noon.
9. Overcast, even rainy, days are good photo opportunities as long as you avoid the overly grey impact of large bodies of water. Think about little dramatic details rather than major landscape scenes. A graceful blade of grass with droplets of water on it or the perfect joy on the face of a youngster stomping into a puddle may be the perfect shot. Just be sure to keep all electronic camera gear perfectly dry.
10. Polarize cloud masses for dramatic skies and broad landscapes to overcome the washed out look that intense mid-day sun sometimes creates. The polarizing lens reduces glare and dramatically increases color saturation so landscape scenes of endless sand dunes or miles of ripening field corn glow with richness and life.
So now that you have a few new rules of your own about mid-day photography grab your camera put on your sun blocker and get out there and take your best shot.