I have felt that: wouldn’t it be awesome to photograph a “sunbeam”. I totally have never had that opportunity.
I found this perfect explanation, and one who has experienced this in detail. His name is Chris Upton:
Chris Upton is a travel, landscape and social documentary photographer from Nottingham-shire, UK. He is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and is proud to be an official Fuji Film Cameras X Photographer. Chris’s great passions in life are travel and photography. He has traveled widely and finds it an amazing experience to observe and photograph a variety of cultures, people, and landscapes. His hope is that through his photographs he can bring a little of this to the viewer and inspire others to experience the beauty and diversity of the world for themselves.
In 2016, Chris presented a major social documentary project recording the closure of Thoresby Colliery, the last pit in Nottingham-shire, to widespread critical acclaim. He also published a book, Thoresby: The End Of The Mine, to accompany the exhibition.
Chris’s work is sold internationally and has been published in numerous magazines and books. He has held several major solo exhibitions and was invited to exhibit at the prestigious Masters of Vision Exhibition of Photography at Southwell Minster in 2009, 2011 and 2013.
Chris loves to share his knowledge and he lectures around the UK and runs a variety of workshop events.
Photography is all about the light and, as landscape photographers, we are constantly searching for the most interesting and evocative lighting conditions. Without it our pictures can be dull and lackluster but when Mother Nature performs her magic, the landscape is transformed enabling us to capture some stunning imagery.
Some of my favorite conditions are shooting into the sun to capture those dramatic sunbeams, starbursts or beautiful back-lit scenes. Although this is counter intuitive to everything we are taught early in our photographic journey, this technique helps emphasize, shapes, lines and silhouettes to produce some striking images.
Here are some hints and tips to help you capture atmospheric sun kissed images.
When shooting sunbeams the first thing you need is strong sunlight! Sunbeams are most pronounced when they bounce off elements in the atmosphere, such as dust or moisture in the form of mist. But it needs to be the right amount of mist; too little and the rays won’t be strong enough, too misty or foggy and you won’t see any. Autumn and Spring often produce the best conditions. Check the weather forecast and look for calm conditions and bright sunshine after a period of rain.
TIME OF DAY:
The best conditions are usually early in the morning, late in the afternoon or early evening, though in the winter the sun never rises too high so this period can be extended.
Shoot towards the sun, with it at 45-180 degrees to your camera. Partially hide the sun behind a tree or other object for a greater effect. Isolating the light area against a darker background, for example making use of a forest canopy, will help the rays look more defined. Finding some open areas for the rays to flood with light can really add some impact to your shots. Look for different compositions and locations but work quickly as these conditions usually don’t last too long!
Remember to keep your lens and filters spotless, as shooting into the sun can be very unforgiving. Any dust or greasy finger marks will show up and degrade the image.
It’s always good to know places locally that you can get to quickly when the conditions are right. Keep an eye on the forecast, prepare your gear and make the most of the light to create some awesome sun blessed images.