Taking advantage of very bright light

Extremely bright sunlight can be tricky for photography. But it has its advantages too. Because when the light is really strong you can start playing with much faster shutter speeds.

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This silver gull had its movement frozen into a nice sharp image thanks to a shutter speed of 1,250th second. As much as I love the gentle, saturated light just before sunset, I’d run into problems taking photos just before sunset at 1,250th second.

There’s a whole lot of great stuff that moves quickly and faster shutter speeds are perfect for them. Running dogs, flying birds, sports — there’s no shortage of subjects to photograph in strong light.

Another kind of photography that eats up as much light as you can throw at it is macro. The small apertures required to get depth of field in macro scenes make most subjects go dark unless you use a flash or have very strong daylight.

honey bee

The photo of the honeybee shown here, for example, was taken without using a flash. To get that shot I turned up the ISO to 2,500 and went out in the brightest part of a sunny day. Aperture priority was set at f/11. Having such bright daylight plus the very high ISO meant that even the small aperture resulted in a fast-enough shutter speed (800th second) to freeze the bee’s movement while I took the photo with the camera hand-held. I wouldn’t try a stunt like that without strong light.

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Beginners’ guides to digital SLR photography


Before you start


The essential basics


Making sense of technical stuff

Photography words

Photography words explained


Sneaky stuff


Common problems and their solutions

Preying mantis

Taking things further


Photography at night

Other photography stuff

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