Clover at Bald Eagle State Park

3 Tips for Taking Photos in Bright Sunlight

A few years ago, my husband and I went with my in-laws to Bald Eagle State Park, not far from Snow Shoe, PA, USA.  It was August, hot, and it was mid-day.  The sun was out without a cloud in the sky.

I took my camera, but was worried about having bright, washed out photos like the one above.  It’s not a bad photo, but it is overexposed.

Here are my 3 tips for taking photos in bright sunlight.  I hope they help you out and you learn something new!

1.   Use a low ISO.

ISO simply controls how light sensitive your camera is when taking a photo.  A low ISO number, such as 100, is less light sensitive than, say an ISO of 800.  If you are taking photos in a brightly light environment, stick to lower numbers.  Learn to control the ISO settings on whatever camera you are using, or let the camera pick an appropriate one by setting it to “auto.”

A fire hydrant at Bald Eagle State Park

2.  A small aperture setting is your friend.

Aperture is the hole at which light enter the camera.  A larger aperture, say 1/4, is a large hole and would let a lot of light in.  Now, a smaller hole or aperture,  like the aperture of 1/320 that I used here, would let less light in.  I probably could have gone lower, but I sort of light blown-out details in this photo.  I also used a focal length, or f-stop of 5.6 in most of these photos.  Use a fast shutter speed is good, too, when you have tons of light.

3.  Lower your light metering.

Take a look at the setting window on your camera.  You may see a line with notches with a “+” and a “-” at each end.  The light metering setting is awesome for situations like this.  You can use this setting to overexpose or underexpose your photo.  Set it towards the minus symbol, your photo gets darker, and you may get more details in a situation like this.  Dialing towards the plus sign will give you a really bright photo.  Play with this setting, and see what you get.  I used this method in the photo below.

A small wildflower at Bald Eagle State Park.

Much better!

Other advice?  Play with settings.  Learn how to control your camera, whether it’s a top of the line DSLR, or your handy point and shoot.  I hope I was able to give you some pointers on how to take photos in really bright sunlight.


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