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on Dec 17, 2010 in Landscape Photography

Including the Sun in Your Photograph

“When do you include the sun in your photo?” “Do you do something special to get that starburts, like a filter or something?” “How do you deal with metering when the same is in the frame?” These are some common questions of late about this basic element we see everyday, the sun. Here’s some of my thoughts on the matter.

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I can only speak for myself, but I include the sun when I feel it is in the right location in the photograph where I want to pull the viewers eye in the frame. At the same time the other elements in the frame have to connect with the sun so the eye can venture through the frame, coming back to the sun and then venture back through the frame. So with that basic formula, being able to include the sun doesn’t happen every outing.

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I really like this photo from the Alabama Hills except for all the little floating UFOs. They are caused because I forgot the one rule when shooting the sun. Have a clean front element! Those little UFOs are caused by dust on the front element diffracting the sun, scattering the light. I do have a final image where I spent way too much time cleaning them up in PS, but simply cleaning the front element in the beginning would have save me a whole bunch of time.

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When it comes to exposure, you have a couple of options these days. The top and bottom frame are HDR images. I went with this option because I wanted information in the shadow portions of the photograph. The middle image is a single click using a 3 stop Split Grad (a dirty split grad). When looking at the LCD for the top and bottom frames, the blinkie was pretty small especially compared to the middle image where nearly the whole top right corner was a flashing neon light. The starburst is real simple, just close the lens down to its smallest aperture. The more aperture blades, the better the pattern. These were taken with the 24PC-E, 70-200VR2 and 16Fish. My suggestion to you is, if a thought comes across your mind to include the sun in the frame, just do it.