For interesting photos in bright light, don’t follow the Kodak advice that came with the early Brownie cameras: “The sun should be behind your back or over your shoulder.”

Shooting with sun in front of the camera can be exquisite, here creating dramatic shadows

That advice was from the earliest days of film photography when shooting toward the light meant bad exposures and lots of lens flare, so shooting with the light behind you was safe – and boring.

I shoot toward the light all the time, backlight, meaning the subject has the light behind it. I would almost never shoot with light over the shoulder which is very flat and drab.

Here are two photos taken from the exact spot, one toward the sun with wonderful backlit grass and a sense of light enveloping the scene.

The second photo has the light behind me.  It is the exact spot, the tripod has not moved.

To show how the light changes from one view to the other, here is a panorama of the whole view – from four images stitched together in the computer.  To do this I simply swivel the camera on the tripod about 2/3 the way through each frame to give PhotoShop enough overlap to merge the images, being careful not to change focus or exposure.

Winter solstice panorama – Blue Oaks and shadows

The range of view, from looking south to north is 180°, and shows how the light changes. I took this series of photos on the winter solstice, the precise day when the sun is lowest in the sky and the shadows are longest.  Clearly the more interesting light is looking toward the light, not when it is over the shoulder.

More on that light exploration in this post: Solstice Light.

 

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