How to work with early morning light: You know what they say about the ‘early bird’ | Toronto Photographer

Well we didn’t get the worm, but we did catch some lovely light. The thing about early morning light, is you really do have to get out early. We got lucky here, because this was an early Sept morning and the sun was rising later. So starting our session at 7:30, we were still able to catch some light. But if this were mid summer you have to get out much earlier.

We found this cool ditch with abandoned railway ties in it and started to explore. In these first 3 images, you can see how the light changes depending on the angle to the camera. In the first image, I’m facing straight onto the subject and the sun is to camera left, in the east. You can see just a bit of back-light occurring. In the second image, I’ve now started to move around the subject to camera right/moving south. You can see now she is getting a more definite back-light and rim-light happening. The angle the light is hitting my lens is also causing some light flare. I don’t mind it, but adding a lens hood, your hand, or adjusting the angle of the lens can easily get rid of it. In the third image, I’m now in a position where the model is in really nice shade. I’ve gone to a much lower angle (I’m likely lying on my stomach), which eliminates any lens flare.

The important thing here is to remember to move. Changing your angle and relation to your subject changes how the light looks along with your composition. When I finally move all the way around behind the model and ask her to turn around and face me, so she is now facing south and the sun is hitting her from camera right, I was rewarded with seeing this beautiful swath of light, perfectly sweeping across her face. To achieve this, in manual mode, I made sure to expose for the light on her face. If you’re in an auto setting you risk having the camera try to evenly expose the entire scene and lose this beautiful light.

Toronto Photographer

Toronto Photographer
Canon 5DII, Canon 50mm f1.4 @ f1.4, ISO 160, 1/1250

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