HARD LIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY by PAULIUS MUSTEIKIS
If you’re a portrait photographer you most likely try to take advantages of the Golden Hour (approximately hour after sunrise or a hour before the sunset). Photographers normally avoid taking pictures in the middle of the day when the sun is right above and create hard light. Photography get’s challenging because of hard shadows, washed out colors and subject’s squinting faces and eyes. One could solve this problem in a few different ways: shoot against the light source (sun), use light modifiers to fill in the shadows, find a good spot and position subject in a shade, etc.
I normally avoid this time of the day if possible. I usually travel light and only one prime lens and a camera body. Adding a flash unit, light modifier and a light stand would be deal killer.
Still, hard light photography could be fun and rewarding experience.
Last time I found myself right under the harsh sun in the middle of the day when visiting La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, Argentina. All I had on me that day was a full frame old DSLR and my beloved manual 35mm lens.
So I came up with the game. Rules were simple- look for funky shadows, sun rays, backlit scenes, reflections, patterns and make hard light photography fun.
Did I see Eva Perón’s (Evita) grave? Most certainly yes.
Did I photograph it? Most certainly not.
Why? It was not affected by sunlight and did not fit my games requirements.
See below how harsh midday sun that day worked for me.