How to Shoot Location Photography at Noon
When you are doing a location shoot, one of the key points of consideration when deciding when and where to do the shoot is that of daylight. In general there are three types of natural light you can get while doing a location shoot, morning light, noon light, and afternoon light. Each of these provides it own unique set of advantages and challenges.
Probably the hardest of the three is shooting during noon light, ironically because this is the time of day where you are receiving the most natural light. Since typically this natural light is so strong due to the fact that its source is almost directly overhead, you start to run into a slew of other issues such as lack of direction, over exposure, and washout.
Low ISO and High Shutter Speed
This step should seem pretty obvious to anyone who has used any type of SLR or DSLR camera, but one key point about this step is not the variables listed in the titled, but the one variable that is not. Aperture. Obviously, your going to want a higher f-stop to compensate for the shear amount of natural light at noon. However, here is the point where you need to bypass those shutter speed/aperture equations “photography schools” teach. You will want to set your ISO as low as it will possibly go, this will allow your image to retain the most detail, even in over exposed areas. Setting your shutter speed higher will allow you to catch the most detail the fastest. Aperture should be your compensation variable for achieving good exposure.
Shoot in the Shadows
Obviously, you do not want to stick strictly to the shadows of a building or other object, as that defeats the purpose of a location shoot. What you will want to do is use the shadows cast by trees, building, or other objects to create contrast in your image. These shadows will help prevent against a completely washed out image, and might even help prevent over exposure. Using shadows to contrast an image is intended mostly for background contrast, not model contrast. On a model these shadows can look out of place, and take away from the entire image.
The same principles as shooting in the shadows applies here. Since there is such an abundance of sunlight from directly above, if you simply shoot someone standing straight in front of you, you are most likely going to get an image of a person with really bright hair, over exposed body, and an underexposed face. Work on positioning your models so that they are working with the omnipresent lighting. Have them tilt their heads forward or backward to either allow more or less light on their face. Remember that most location photography is “What You See Is What You Get” lighting.
Yes, seriously. If you lower your ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture, so that even in broad daylight your image comes out slightly under exposed, you can used an external flash to create a more controlled lighting model. You will need to make sure you use an angle for the flash in order to avoid over exposure from a straight on flash. The use of reflectors can help aid with this.