Harsh Spring Light...

Aug 27, 2006
The Garden State, USA
it sure is tough to deal with, how do you all handle this type of harsh mid day light?
Thanks for your ideas

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i think you handled the harsh light very well. Most pro sportshooters seem to say expose for faces, highlights be damned. I tend to agree and almost think harsh light photos don't even look right unless some whites are at least slightly blown ... I mean heck, we do wear sunglasses in this kinda light:wink:

About the only thing I really try to keep from blowing are hots spots on faces or other prominent body parts. In this vein, I'd say the second one is a bit overexposed.

On the third one however, I might try some select area lightening on her face. Very nice shot, btw. I see you're using NX. I've found selective-area use of Photo Effects (Filters) to be an easy way to brighten faces. Also under filters, Contrast Color Range ... try setting the Hue slider to about 28 .. it really brightens skin tones .. sometimes at the expense of other colors .. but you can recapture the other colors with Color Control Points. I've never seen anybody talk about Contrast Color Range ... I think it's worth playing with on these kind of shots.

best, mark


Jun 17, 2005
Mystic, CT
Good shots. Excellent action and isolation from the background. As others have pointed out, your results are not bad for these conditions.

How do I deal with harsh light? Well, first I remember what a pain it was to shoot sports at around EV 7 in poorly lit gyms and arenas! :smile: Then I try to expose for the important highlights, let the whites fall where they may, and hope for enough shadow detail. You have to accept some blown highlights, and just try to avoid sharp transitions to featureless areas on skin, faces, etc. Choosing camera angle to avoid, as much as possible, direct reflection from bright areas can help, in theory. However, achieving this in practice is usually impossible since shooting position is dictated by the action, background and available access.

This is one situation where negative film was superior, with larger dynamic range and smoother toe and tail transitions. However, even in the old days, you could capture considerably more dynamic range on a negative than it was possible to display in a print.

Post processing can also help. If you are shooting in raw, you can underexpose a bit and bring back shadow and midtone levels using a curve similar to the hdr mode in RML. Alternatively, you can use D-light in NX or highlight/shadow in PS to help tame the contrast.
May 23, 2005
These are good, I always blow the whites in bright light to properly expose for the faces, to my eyes whites get blown in bright sun, so I dont mind if that is reflected in my images.

It rarely hurts an image (if you have time in post) to bring up the black point in levels, this helps make for nice contraty images in bright sun
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