How to photograph sunbeams

February 2, 2015

 

Add a sunbeam to your mundane composition and you’ll come up with a spectacular photograph that will leave your friends asking “How did you do that?”  

     It is actually a very simple technique.  First off, you need to have bright sun light. The best shooting time is 1/2 hour after sunrise and 1/2 hour before sunset. The sun’s rays are most dramatic at these time frames. Midday light has such a high contrast that it makes it difficult to capture a sunbeam.  It's often helpful to have a reflective surface such as snow, wet leaves or sand.  When there is mist in the air you’ll also capture sun beams more clearly.  It often helps to position yourself where the sun will shine through a slit in the trees, clouds or even a window pane.

     So now that you are in the right place at the right time, here is how it’s done.... Set your camera to aperture priority at a very small aperture.  For this shot, I used F/22 at ISO 200.  

           Next meter your exposure on a area of sky that is the brightest (but don’t meter directly on the sun!)  Usually just below or on either side of the sun will work.  Now lock in that exposure reading, recompose your frame and shoot.  That’s all there is to it.  Your friends will be amazed at your beautiful sunbeam shots.  Want to learn more.... sign up for my individual or group photo instruction.  Personalized instruction at an affordable price.

 

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