Whenever I try to take a photo in bright sunlight, I usually end up with something like this:

enter image description here

It looks somewhat acceptable, but far from what this scene would look like at sunrise or sunset.

Is there anything I can do to capture nicer shots when the sun is bright?


Options to consider:


I think the photographer has to choose their subjects based on the conditions. Given that you cannot make bright sun into sun set or sunrise I think you have to pick a composition that works in some way given the sun.

As examples I have used the way the clouds cast shadows to create interesting contrast in the brightly lit trees. enter image description here

Or find reflection or colours that are enhanced by the bright sun - adding natural saturation. enter image description here

I think in your example you have some interesting layers of mountains that the bright sun and the haze and I would recommend finding a composition that focuses on that feature of the landscape. Something like some of the the images in this search: https://www.google.com/imghp?q=photography+layers+of+hills+bright+sun

Granted a lot of what you will see are taken early or late in the day but not all and I think there are some applicable examples.


Go black and white:

enter image description here

check out the work of Ansel Adams etc. Black and white film with a red filter can be very dramatic and can be reproduce in an image-editing program via desaturation and playing with the levels of each channel.

  • Facepalm! How did I miss this option! :o) – Rafael Sep 13 '19 at 17:01

The first option is to study the landscape beforehand. Carry a compass wherever you go and see where are the east and the west. Then you can probably plan a bit more when you need to be.

A lot of photography, especially about nature is about patience and endurance. It sounds like a small joke but as commented, wake up really early or be prepared to stay up late. Usually, the early option gives you less crowded places.

But let us live on with we have.

  1. If you are on a location at the wrong hour, my tip is to underexpose a bit your shot, The first thing to avoid is the blown white boring skies. But additionally, it will look less bright of course.

    On this example, I just moved a bit the curves, and it looks more depth. (I over exaggerated the curve)

enter image description here

Moving the curves, as a secondary effect saturates it at different levels, so that is an interesting side effect of moving the curves.

  1. Besides the other tips already mentioned like some filters, one thing you can do is position some elements close to you, let's say take a small branch and hold it before the lens. Try different distances, so you have an element blurred.

    On the photo you showed, you could walk closer to the bushes and see how your composition changes.

enter image description here

  1. Here is a simple crop, but I tried to use the thirds rule for the horizon and the bush.

enter image description here

Try to explore a bit more what is that you like about the landscape when you are standing there.

The branch image

  • I like your addition of foreground interest. – xiota Sep 13 '19 at 0:35

Add UV filter and/or Polarizing filter. Lightroom for processing, colour grade.

  • Can you provide a little more detail? – mattdm Sep 13 '19 at 14:24

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