Midday Photography and the Soft Light of Shade

by Jim Zuckerman

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© Jim Zuckerman
All Rights Reserved
The reason this picture is successful, besides the graphically pleasing curl of the baby elephant's trunk, is because of the soft, diffused light. I took this picture at 11 o'clock in the morning when the sun was high in the sky and thus very contrasty. However, I noticed that the mother elephant's bulk shaded the baby, and that presented me with the perfect opportunity.

I shot this image in Kenya, and at this time of day it's hard to find great shots. I used a 500mm telephoto, plus a 1.4x teleconverter, to eliminate the sunlit portions of the scene. The 700mm of focal length gave me this tight composition in perfect light even though just outside this frame was harsh and contrasty sunlight.

Shooting a midday is a tough proposition, but with an alert eye and an awareness of what makes a strong picture, you can sometimes find excellent opportunities.

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Jim Z is a top pro who teaches online photo courses at BetterPhoto.com's digital photography school, including these interactive classes: Techniques of Natural Light Photography and Eight Steps to More Dramatic Photography. Also, he contributed to Jim Miotke and Kerry Drager's how-to books: The BetterPhoto Guide to Creative Digital Photography and The BetterPhoto Guide to Photographing Light.





Article by Jim Zuckerman. To learn more about photography, explore the many online photography and Photoshop classes offered here at BetterPhoto.com.