One of the biggest challenges of outdoor photography is the presence of shadows. A shadow can loom over your photo like a cloud, distracting the viewer from what you want their eyes to focus on. Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do to get rid of a shadow and shoot the photo you want.
Early mornings are by far my favorite time to be in the garden. It’s often when the neighborhood is quiet, the air is crisp, and most importantly it’s when the sun is low in the sky – giving off a soft, diffused light over my garden that’s perfect for capturing photos. However, there are many, many times when I reach for my camera in the middle of the day when the sun is directly overhead. The problem with shooting on a bright, sunny day is that the harsh light can cast a distracting shadow over my subject. Ever had this happen to you? If so, there’s a simple fix to get the shot you want without having a shadow photobombing your picture.
Move your body.
I took the picture below in my grandmother’s flower garden right after lunch on a bright sunny day in February. In the image, the daffodils are in focus while the pine straw and brick foundation in the background are slightly blurred. So far, so good.
However, the dark shadow pulls the viewers eye from the focal point (the yellow blooms) to the left side of image. The shadow clearly distracts the viewer from I want them to pay attention to. In this image my body was causing the shadow.
In the image below, I wanted the viewer to focus on the little shoots emerging from the pine straw that protected them from the cold during the winter. Unfortunately, the shadow minimizes the importance of the emerging shoots because the bright light beacons the viewers eye towards the single yellow flower instead. In this image, the brick foundation of my grandmother’s water pump created the shadow.
I can’t get rid of the sun, but I can control where a shadow shows up in my image. By simply repositioning my body to a different location, I can compose a shot where the shadow falls outside the frame. The scene in the image below is basically the same as in the photo above, however I got down lower to the ground thus making the shadow, as well as, the sunlight less dramatic in the photo.
To shoot this next photo, I moved in front of the daffodils.
Again in this next shot I kneeled directly in front of the flowers, however I was inside the shadow along with the daffodils so the lighting appears consistent throughout the photo. This tactic works well if you are shooting close-up.
So don’t let the sunshine stop you from shooting. Take a few test shots. Observe where the shadows are lurking, then move about to shoot the photo you want.