Spring is here and if you’re worth your worth your weight in film you’ll be taking your camera out into this lovely weather. But being bathed in sunlight also means the middle of the day is hardly the time to take pictures. The bright mid-day sun can ruin photographs with harsh shadows and blown out highlights. But this weekend, don’t be afraid. Embrace the harsh light make some pictures with guts.
Whenever I find myself in harsh light, I look to the color photography master Alex Webb.
Webb, the renowned Magnum photographer has made a career out of making beautiful pictures where light and color tell as much of a story as the subjects. With titles like, “Under A Grudging Sun,” “From the Sunshine State” and “Hot Light/ Half Made Worlds” Webb is a master of dealing with the most stubborn of light. Much of his classic work was shot on low ISO color slide film, a perfect fit for bright colorful locals. If you look at Webb’s most sun drenched shots, he is frequently metering for the brightest part of the frame, as opposed to finding the exposure in the middle.
This approach leaves much of his frame in the dark, but allows the bright pockets he wants you to see jump out from the shadows. Exposing for the highlights in an easy approach to get the most out of bright situations, and simplifying a possibly chaotic scene. Taking advantage of harsh light might not produce the most flattering portrait, but it is an easy way to organize a busy street shot.
So, in that spirit, let’s have a contest. Here at The Photoletariat we’re trying trying to build a fun, supportive community. What better way to get that community off the ground than to share our pictures? If you have got a beautiful weekend coming your way (and even if you don’t), send us a picture from whatever you’re doing, and we’ll feature it on here Monday morning. The theme this week is “Best Pictures in the Worst Light.” Send a .jpg to me at firstname.lastname@example.org (10 in @ 72 dpi please). Please include where you’re from and if have a website, we’d love to share it.