Light is the Key to Good Photography
I am sure you have heard that the golden hours of photography are early in the morning or right at dusk, but sometimes ideal lighting conditions are hard to come by.
What is a good photographer to do? Keep your eyes peeled and look for the light. I was shooting a wedding recently at the most beautiful location. There were waterfalls, gazebos, little bridges, beautiful fountains, it was lovely. However, at the time of day we were shooting there were tons of oddly shaped shadows from the sun filtering through the trees at all of these photo ops. I tried to put my bride and groom in different areas to block out the shadows, and was mildly successful. Then I happened to look up and see the most delicious light filtering in over a back fence into the garbage area of the venue. Despite their protests and the looks of shock from the grandmas in the group, I dragged them over, posed them up and started shooting. There were overflowing garbage cans, no trespassing signs and an ugly shed behind us but I got the light I wanted to create some dramatic effect.
Sun Flare Light Effect
The key to getting a cool sun flare is knowing your camera. I know that in order to properly expose my subject when they are back lit I need to shoot a few stops down from whatever my camera is telling me. Once I have the shot lined up and the subject focused, I re-frame enough to let the sunlight spill into the lens, just a touch, right at the tippy top.
Frequently there are big reflectors in the environment that can help brighten your subjects; you just have to open up your eyes to them. I recently shot a wedding and the mother of the bride wanted a group picture of about 45 people on the steps of a massive building.
By the time I got everyone set up, I was expecting to find that the people in the back would be extremely dark, but was pleasantly surprised to see that they were actually fairly bright. Looking around to see what was causing it I noticed that the noonday sun was bouncing off a nearby metal roof top and right on to my enormous group, saving me the trouble of trying to figure out my flash.