Last week, reader Aimee asked about photographing in manual mode on a bright day, and I offered up quite a few tips for managing bright light. Well, wouldn't you know, I ended up photographing a friend's family after their son's adoption sealing at the Denver Temple. It had just snowed, was mid-day, and as this is a sacred place, photos in the doorway just wouldn't do- I wanted to get the temple in the background. This involved shooting directly into the bright mid-day sun.
I grew up near the Denver Temple, but I had never acutally been there, so I wasn't really familiar with the LDS temple grounds (and the best places for photos there)- but I wanted to be sure I was able to capture the family in this beautiful surrounding in all of it's elegance. Since the entrance faces to the east, and I really wanted the gorgeous Temple in the background, I positioned everyone also facing east- meaning I was shooting right into the bright Colorado sun. You will find lots of situations where you just can't insist everyone stand in the shade for the best shots- you will have to figure out ways to caputre the wonderful surroundings without completely washing out your photos with sunlight.
Luckily, my Lightroom software helped me capture the day's emotion and drama with some simple edits you can use in your own photos! I am showing one of the lovely family, and one I quickly took of the Temple and the sky. Blue skies are one of the trickiest parts of bright sun photography, but with some editing know how, you can have them in no time! If you don't have lightroom, you can use these actions in other photo editing software- I just prefer Lightroom for its ease, how quickly everything goes, and how professional the edits look.
First, I started off with a picture of the temple and the blue sky. Unfortunately, with the way a DSLR process light, you will likely get a blueish-gray sky, instead of the lovely blue you see with your eyes. Head to the "develop" tab in the top right to follow along with my changes, listed in the screenshots below:
Next, for the lovely family shots, I did pretty much the same things- minus the white balance correction. Upping the blues in the white balance on a portrait can give skin a grey (and blue, if too far) tone. The other edits are using the same controls, to varying degrees.
If you'd like your photo to be B&W (a great way to add drama to bright photos), switch the color to grayscale. You will also want to re-do your lighting and up your colors and recovery when switching to grayscale- it washes everything out a bit. (I actually mostly use B&W presets for most of my B&W photos- which don't use grayscale and instead tweak colors, but that is an article for a different day!)
What are your favorite bright day editing tips?