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Shooting into the sun...
Hi everyone,.

Well, I've just got myself a 450D (big step up from my point-and-shoot that I had before), and I'm trying to master it......... but there's one thing I wanted to check before I did anything stupid..

Is there anything wrong with shooting directly into the sun, or other really bright light sources? I've read the manual, and I've seen it mentioned a few times in there (don't shoot into the sun, it may damage the camera, etc.), but I'm curious as to (a) why that is, and (b) how far that extends..

(a) It makes sense, I guess focus something big and bright and hot onto sensitive electronics probably wouldn't end well. But, shouldn't the metering compensate for it? As long as the camera exposure indicator isn't blinking away at me, saying "warning, this is probably going to be overexposed!", I should be able to point my camera right at the sun and shoot, correct? (what else is it supposed to damage?).

(b) How far does that extend? ie. I've got some of those 1000W halogen flood lights they get bloody hot and bright, if you're close it's hard to look at them directly. Obviously a few orders of magnitude less severe than the sun on a sunny day, but the same concepts should apply, correct? What about stage lights, spotlights, any other stupidly bright light sources?.

Sorry for rambling this is my first post, thought I should explain myself clearly.  Also, I tried to search in the forums, but couldn't find anything relevant but if it's already been answered, my apologies, please link me to it. .

Cheers,Michael..

Comments (19)

No need to apologize for asking a perfectly legitimate question..

General rule of thumb: Expose wisely. That is, don't take a picture of something you know won't make sense. An exposure of 30 (or 5) seconds against a bright noon sun is not only senseless but could very possibly fry the sensor. On the other hand, an exposure of 1/4000 sec is an entirely different thing. The same thing applies to any other strong light source, although it is probably impossible to cause damage to the camera by pointing it at a man-made light source..

So, just to make myself clear, if you want to take a picture against the sun, use P or A mode, and let the camera adjust the shutter speed. Probably it will select something close to 1/4000. If you use A mode and have selected a very large aperture (say, f/1.8) the camera may not be able to select a fast enough speed. In this case, you should step down the aperture until it can..

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Http://www.flickr.com/photos/96953368@N00/..

Comment #1

I shoot into the sun often. The primary precautions, practically, are for one's eye, and then for the lens chamber..

I presume you need no advice for protecting your vision. Exposing for the sun isn't a problem for the camera - but if you are tripod mounted, just be sure not to leave the lens cap off when not shooting, while the sun is in the frame..

...Bob, NYC.

Galleries: http://www.pbase.com/btullis..

Comment #2

Not to mention that any shot that includes the sun is going to have a horrendous DR. this means that you are going to get the sun right(maybe) or the rest of the scene right on exposure. NOT BOTH. the DR is just too much, the sensor does not have that range..

There are though many many pics of sunsets that include the sun. the sun is overexposed while the scene is exposed correctly...

Comment #3

You have a scenario/composition in mind that doesn't address other possibilities..

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And then, you have the GND or blended exposures approaches. Shooting into the sun doesn't mean one can't cope with the DR presented. Here's a 'so what' capture, no filter, no blending - it exhibits what you speak of, but yet it works nicely:.

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...Bob, NYC.

Galleries: http://www.pbase.com/btullis..

Comment #4

GaryDeM wrote:.

Not to mention that any shot that includes the sun is going to have ahorrendous DR. this means that you are going to get the sunright(maybe) or the rest of the scene right on exposure. NOT BOTH.the DR is just too much, the sensor does not have that range..

Aah, good point. But surely some exposure bracketing could help allay that? or, alternatively, if *that* is still too high a DR, two manual shots a "normal" shot, which would have a nice sun and sky (but almost-black ground), then another one which gets a nicer ground...... and manually stitch 'em together later..

In *that* case, should I worry about damaging anything in the camera for the second shot? ie. I'm not being stupid with 5 second exposures or anything, but I'm guessing it would be, say, +3 or +4 EV above what the camera would normally meter for that shot (with the sun)...

Comment #5

Ancient_Mariner wrote:*snip*.

Excellent, that helps assuage my fears.  I didn't really think there was *much* wrong with it, because logically, it's all the same amount of light (as long as the camera can handle it), right? I guess I just wanted to hear voices of wisdom confirm it for me. .

Cheers,Michael..

Comment #6

Bob Tullis wrote:.

I presume you need no advice for protecting your vision. Exposingfor the sun isn't a problem for the camera - but if you are tripodmounted, just be sure not to leave the lens cap off when notshooting, while the sun is in the frame..

Oh, why's that? That's the sort of thing I'm asking about, I guess as I understand it, as long as I don't *over* over expose a shot of the sun (eg. 5 second exposure a f1.8 or something) the sensor should be fine........ but what about the other components of the camera? Is there something else that I should know of or be worried about (as suggested in your post)?..

Comment #7

Michael Sallaway wrote:.

Bob Tullis wrote:.

I presume you need no advice for protecting your vision. Exposingfor the sun isn't a problem for the camera - but if you are tripodmounted, just be sure not to leave the lens cap off when notshooting, while the sun is in the frame..

Oh, why's that? That's the sort of thing I'm asking about, I guess as I understand it, as long as I don't *over* over expose a shot ofthe sun (eg. 5 second exposure a f1.8 or something) the sensor shouldbe fine........ but what about the other components of the camera? Isthere something else that I should know of or be worried about (assuggested in your post)?.

You don't want the sun's energy to be left baking the lens chamber. While the light is not focused like a magnifying glass, it is more focused than just letting the sun hit an open lens chamber. Possible damage to the lens chamber components, or even the internal circuitry, from overheating is what one would want to avoid..

...Bob, NYC.

Galleries: http://www.pbase.com/btullis..

Comment #8

Bob Tullis wrote:.

You don't want the sun's energy to be left baking the lens chamber.While the light is not focused like a magnifying glass, it is morefocused than just letting the sun hit an open lens chamber.Possible damage to the lens chamber components, or even the internalcircuitry, from overheating is what one would want to avoid..

Oh, gotcha. Excellent, thanks for all the tips, guys! .

Cheers,Michael..

Comment #9

Just got done reading a book on HDR in which the author states that a sun shot on a full blue sky sunny day with deep shadows could have a DR as high as 40 stop. that is 40 stops..

No amount of bracketing will get that DR in. this does not mean to say that a scene that has the sun in it has a poor looking sun. absolutely not. but to think you are getting the DR that includes the sun in the image, not going to happen. the images just above this reply show the sun in some very nice scenes. so it can be done.



The only thing to concern yourself with is letting the sun's correct exposure destroy the rest of the scene's correct exposure. and not looking directly at the sun for any length of time with your unprotected eye. for the same reason do not let the camera/lens remain pointed at the sun with the lens cap off forever...

Comment #10

Michael,.

I have a question related to your topic, so I hope you don't mind me asking in your thread..

Here's a picture that I took last weekend with my Canon A590 IS:.

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I'm a photography beginner and I was trying to take a picture with the sun directly against me. So, I set my camera to Tv at 1/1000 and took that shot. The lower half of the picture is obviously very dark due to the poor dynamic range of my camera tiny camera. But, is there any way I could improve this (in terms of shooting with my camera; not post processing)?.

A590 IS..

Comment #11

You might get a gradient neutral density filter. It's 1/2 ND, and 1/2 clear (the transitional area can be hard edged or soft edged, and the strength of the darker portion comes in various levels of density)..

The object is to place the NDG filter so it limits the brightness of the sky, leaving the clear portion to cover the darker area. This will 'tame' the dynamic range somewhat..

While they sell screw in GND filters, the square ones that you can put in a filter holder on the front of the lens (or just hand held, or taped to the lens) allows more versatile positioning options to accommodate the composition. Not all compositions will have a centered demarkation between the light/dark areas..

...Bob, NYC.

Galleries: http://www.pbase.com/btullis..

Comment #12

GaryDeM wrote:.

Just got done reading a book on HDR in which the author states that asun shot on a full blue sky sunny day with deep shadows could have aDR as high as 40 stop. that is 40 stops..

No amount of bracketing will get that DR in. this does not mean tosay that a scene that has the sun in it has a poor looking sun.absolutely not. but to think you are getting the DR that includes thesun in the image, not going to happen. the images just above thisreply show the sun in some very nice scenes. so it can be done. butif you are trying to get a corret exposure of the sun only, you aregoing to have a tough time, probably impossible without specialequipment..

The only thing to concern yourself with is letting the sun's correctexposure destroy the rest of the scene's correct exposure. and notlooking directly at the sun for any length of time with yourunprotected eye. for the same reason do not let the camera/lensremain pointed at the sun with the lens cap off forever..

If by "correct expoure" you mean getting an 18% gray tone, then the above point is relevant. But a properly exposed sun can play a role in a scene with a properly exposed foreground and represent the tonal relationships we perceive in real life. For instance, the range of bracketed exposures in the below photo was, if I recall, 8 stops. within each exposure is a range of tones that, when combined, adequately represent the range of tone experienced in the original scene. I'd much rather have the original poster understand that photography offers a huge range of possiblities, including that of shooting into the sun, rather than have him get a negative, "can't be done" message..

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Davehttp://www.pbase.com/dsjtecserv..

Comment #13

As for it cannot be done. lets you get a correct picture of the sun with a 300mm lens on a c sensor dslr. use iso 200..

Now what shutter speed and fstop did you say you used?.

Of course it cannot be done, not with correct sun exposure. THAT is what I said. I have many pics of the sun in my images, but in every one the sun is not correctly exposed. am I going to care or worry about it? absolutely not. the pics look fine...

Comment #14

Or use an hdr technique, with a lot a bracketing on the bright end to control the sky glare...

Comment #15

GaryDeM wrote:.

As for it cannot be done. lets you get a correct picture of the sunwith a 300mm lens on a c sensor dslr. use iso 200..

Now what shutter speed and fstop did you say you used?.

Of course it cannot be done, not with correct sun exposure. THAT iswhat I said. I have many pics of the sun in my images, but in everyone the sun is not correctly exposed. am I going to care or worryabout it? absolutely not. the pics look fine..

Sigh. Gary, what do you mean by correctly exposed? As I said in my post, I would assume you don't mean an exposure needed to render the sun at 18% gray. Since no one experiences the sun that way, it would be silly try to render it that way in a picture. I would suggest that a proper exposure of the sun would be similar to what is shown in the example I provided the sun itself is at the maximum lightness permitted by the media (i.e "blown out") which is how we experience it but does not blow out large areas of the surrounding sky or clouds. On that basis, it is both possible and practical to shoot into the sun and come away with a picture that approximates the way we experience a scene..

I'm inviting you to agree with the obvious and, I think, providing a better way to restate your original point, in a way that would be more accurate and useful to the person who asked the question..

Dave.

Http://www.pbase.com/dsjtecserv..

Comment #16

GaryDeM wrote:.

Of course it cannot be done, not with correct sun exposure. THAT iswhat I said. I have many pics of the sun in my images, but in everyone the sun is not correctly exposed. am I going to care or worryabout it? absolutely not. the pics look fine..

Then I fail to see why you brought up the notion of a properly exposed sun in the first place (especially since the OP asked about precautions involved with into the sun shots, not asking at all about exposures)..

No harm done, but I'm just left scratching my head. Let's just move on.  .

...Bob, NYC.

Galleries: http://www.pbase.com/btullis..

Comment #17

Dsjtecserv wrote:.

GaryDeM wrote:I'd much rather have the original poster understand thatphotography offers a huge range of possiblities, including that ofshooting into the sun, rather than have him get a negative, "can't bedone" message..

Hi Dave,.

Thanks heaps for that yeah, I think you understood what I meant.  At least now I know it's possible, so I'm going to try it this weekend I just didn't want to try without checking for fear of damaging something..

Now that I know I can have a crack at it, I'll play around, and learn what works, and what doesn't. .

Cheers! Thanks to everyone for their help!Michael..

Comment #18

Michael Sallaway wrote:.

Thanks heaps for that yeah, I think you understood what I meant. At least now I know it's possible, so I'm going to try it thisweekend I just didn't want to try without checking for fear ofdamaging something..

Now that I know I can have a crack at it, I'll play around, and learnwhat works, and what doesn't. .

Cheers! Thanks to everyone for their help!Michael.

Exactly! That's the best way to see if something can work, and to expand your creative range. Have fun!.

Davehttp://www.pbase.com/dsjtecserv..

Comment #19

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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