Shooting Againts the Light: Let the Rays Spread

 

Wake up before the sun rises and head out to shoot slanting sunrays as they find their way into your surroundings.

Capturing sunbeams is not only about knowing how to apply the correct camera techniques, but also about observing and acknowledging the quality of light—from thin, pale rays to bright shafts that pierce through leaves.

Choose a high contrast scene with dark surroundings as this is ideal for photographing and enhancing the effect of sunrays. Exposure: 1/125sec at f/5 (ISO 100) Photograph/Varun Thottathil

Choose a high contrast scene with dark surroundings as this is ideal for photographing and enhancing the effect of sunrays. Exposure: 1/125sec at f/5 (ISO 100) Photograph/Varun Thottathil

How to Achieve it
The sun’s rays are more visible and prominent when the background is comparatively darker. You can amplify this effect by slightly underexposing the frame. Do this by pressing the +/- button of the camera.

Early to Rise
Early mornings and evenings are a good time to photograph sun rays. During these hours, the air is filled with fog, mist, dust or vapour. When sunlight reflects off particles in the vapour, it makes the rays more pronounced. The effect of sun rays is also accentuated when there is fog and smoke in the air. Moreover, this vapour helps in keeping direct sunlight from overpowering the individual rays of light, thus making them more prominent. Another reason why this effect looks great is that the colour of light in the morning and evening is soft and golden. If there are clouds in the sky, they turn pink and orange, with rays bursting from behind them.

Do Not Include the Sun Itself
Compose the picture such that the sun is not directly in your frame. You can try hiding the sun behind a few branches of a tree or leaves. Of course, you don’t need to restrict yourself to only landscapes. You can photograph monuments, with light bursting from behind them. Alternatively, include a human element in the frame and click the shutter when its position is perfect with relation to the sunbeam.

This article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of Better Photography.

For more techniques on backlighting, click here.

Tags: Shooting Technique, Chandni Gajria, backlighting, shooting against the light, Early morning shots