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How to Take Pictures in Bright Sunlight

Transform bright light from a foe to a friend with a simple polarizing filter.


  • Step 1: Put on sunglasses Put on your sunglasses—you don’t want to hurt your own eyes.
  • Step 2: Pick subject Decide on what subject you wish to shoot.
  • Step 3: Position your back toward the sun and your subject Position yourself according to the orientation of the sun, with your back toward the sun and your subject facing the sun to minimize shadows on their faces.
  • Step 4: Attach polarizing filter Grab your camera and screw on a polarizing filter, which will help defray excess UV light.
  • Step 5: Set ISO to lowest setting Set your ISO to the lowest possible setting, such as 100.
  • Step 6: Turn off auto-mode Turn of your auto-mode and choose either Manual, Aperture Priority, or Shutter Speed priority modes.
  • Step 7: Compose shot Compose your shot.
  • TIP: Compose your subject by using the rule of thirds, where your subject is either in the left or right third, not the direct middle, for the most interesting pictures.
  • Step 8: Focus on the subject Focus on the subject.
  • Step 9: Take a light reading Take a light reading by metering the subject.
  • TIP: If your camera has a built-in light meter, it will meter through the glass, adjusting for the polarizing lens. If, however, you’re using a hand-held meter, be sure to add the appropriate ƒ-stop by reading the instructions on the filter’s packaging.
  • Step 10: Select shutter speed and aperture Select your shutter speed and aperture, based on your readings.
  • TIP: In bright situations your camera’s meter system will tend to underexpose your shot to balance out the amount of light hitting your sensor. If you want 'white' snow, not 'grey' snow, over-expose your shots by 1/2 to a full stop.
  • Step 11: Adjust polarizing filter until sky is deep blue Look through your viewfinder at the subject and adjust your polarizing filter until the sky is a deep blue.
  • Step 12: Re-focus Re-focus on the subject.
  • Step 13: Shoot until satisfied Shoot until you’re satisfied, then shoot a little more, just in case.
  • FACT: The intensity of ultraviolet rays increases 5% every 1000 feet of elevation you gain.

You Will Need

  • A camera
  • Circular polarizing filter
  • And eye protection or sunglasses

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