Oregon Coast/Article,Russ Burden.
by Viveca Venegas

Photographer In Action
Photographer In Action

Without the sun, life wouldnít exist. It provides energy for plants, heat for warmth, gravity to hold the planets in orbit, and light to make photographs. Without its light, landscapes and seascapes, as we know them, couldnít be made. It illuminates the earth in rich warm tones of orange and red, allows rainbows to bridge the sky, and provides color to paint the clouds.

Unto itself, the sun can be a good photographic subject once you learn how to deal with a few concerns. Flare, strong contrast, improper exposures, and safety issues need to be addressed. Techniques can be easily learned to contend with these issues. Time of day, atmospheric conditions, careful technique and common sense all impact the success of sun photographs.

Over the years, Iíve learned strategies to make good sunscapes. Whether it involves the sun on the horizon, high in the sky, diffused by fog, or bounced off reflected surfaces, I utilize what Iíve gained from experience and apply it to each new sun situation I encounter. As you begin to incorporate these techniques into your photography, youíll look at the sun in a whole new light.


Romance At Horizon
Romance At Horizon
.


Horizon Time
A great time to shoot the sun is when it appears just above the horizon. Unless the sky is void of atmospherics, pollutants or dust particles help tame flare problems. If the sun is not strongly diffused, do not look at it when you are creating your composition. You may cause irrevocable damage to your eyes.
Try to position the sun using the rule of thirds as it will be the primary subject in the image. Keep it in the upper portion of the photograph if the foreground has interest and place it in the lower portion if the sky has the most interest. This holds true for both verticals and horizontals.



Pray For Clouds
Although contradictory for many photographic situations, soft clouds can be your ally when your camera is aimed toward the sun. They can take on color in early or late light adding impact to an image. Those with rim lit halos make interesting subjects. Shoot them just as the sun dips behind their perimeters.
Getting proper exposures is straight forward in that the intensity of the sun is not apparent and will not fool the meter into thinking it should underexpose the photo. Another benefit is when the sun is behind a cloud, itís safer to study the composition. The danger of retina damage is lessened commensurate with the thickness of the cloud diffusing the sun. For safetyís sake, never look directly at the sun even through the viewfinder, especially when using a telephoto lens.


Blue Fog
Blue Fog
Fog is one of my favorite conditions in which to shoot. Its ethereal quality lends itself to getting great mood shots. It acts as a natural diffuser of the sun. This allows you to shoot it experiencing fewer flare or contrast problems.
The density of the fog determines the mood of the image. A thin rolling fog is very effective. At any given moment, the sunís intensity varies with the thickness of its mist. As the fog moves across the sunís face, its brightness increases and decreases. It may appear as a subtle round disk. Within a matter of seconds, it may be revealed as a simple glow with no definition. When shooting fog, itís a good idea to overexpose up to one stop from the meter reading or else the image will appear dull gray .


Magenta Blue Evening
Magenta Blue Evening
Focus On The Sky
Colorful skies are good subjects unto themselves. The best time to take advantage of them is when the sun is close to the horizon. Be it pre dawn, post sunset, or right at sunrise or sunset, the sun acts to fill the sky with vivid warm tones. Isolating cloud patterns, spots of dramatic color, sun rays, or a long telephoto of the sun itself produces strong images to punch up slide show or make a nice print.
The color can often be enhanced through the creative use of filters. An enhancing filter can be used to help punch up warm tones. A sunset filter will shift all the colors toward orange. The 81 series will add varying degrees of warmth. When using them, make sure the image maintains a level of believability unless a creative purpose is sought.