Find the Open Shade~Photo Tip

Welcome my awesome friend and fabulous photographer–Shari Hanson sharing a great photo tip today–Finding the Open Shade.

Hello friends and followers of Kristen Duke!  I have known Kristen since high school and feel so blessed to know her!  When I was starting out in photography she was (and still is) an endless source of information and help to me!  I am so pleased that she invited me to be with you today and excited to share an awesome lighting tip with you!

Photography tips on how to take pictures, finding open shade. #phototip #photography www.KristenDuke.com

When shooting with natural light we all know that the best light is usually found early in the morning or around an hour before sunset — what people like to call the “Golden Hour.”  Does this mean that we just put our cameras away during the rest of the day?  NO WAY, JOSE!!  If you’re afraid of shooting in bright sun, then this is the lesson for you!  If you know how to find open shade, then you can shoot on bright sunny days with no problem!

First of all, what is open shade?  Open shade is found in an area that is shaded from direct sunlight but is illuminated by reflected light.  Open shade can be found in a variety of places such as in the shadow of a building, right inside your front door, under a big tree, or even right inside your garage – with the door open of course!

The reason open shade is so awesome is because it creates a nice, even light across your subject.  The most important thing to remember is to ALWAYS have your subject facing the light!  This will create beautiful catch lights in their eyes, and make them look bright and ALIVE!

Here’s an example of using open shade:

Open Shade

In the photo on the left, can you see that line between the shade and the sunlight?  That is a tell-tale sign of open shade.  I usually ask my subjects to stand a few feet back from that line and it creates such lovely reflected light on them!  Can you see the catch lights in their eyes in the photo on the right?  That’s what you’re going for!

When placing your subject in open shade, the key is to not place them too far forward or back in the shade.  During a recent senior session I asked my client to help me demonstrate this lesson and he happily obliged:
Photography tips on how to take pictures, finding open shade. #phototip #photography www.KristenDuke.com
In this set of images you can clearly see how the light affects your subject by placing them too far forward or back in open shade.  In the far left, he is standing directly on top of the line where the shadow of the building meets the sunlight.  This images is harshly backlit creating dark shadows on his face. (I personally LOVE using backlight, and it can produce really beautiful images, but that’s another lesson for another time!)   In the middle image he is standing about 2-3 feet back from that shadow/light line and look how beautifully even the light is!  The image on the right shows him standing all the way back against the wall – at this point he is too far from the reflected light and the image is dark and dull.
Once you know how to find and use open shade, I guarantee you will see a difference in your images and you will LOVE how they turn out!  Just to wrap things up, here are a few more examples of how I’ve used open shade:
Photography tips on how to take pictures, finding open shade. #phototip #photography www.KristenDuke.com
These images were shot at 1pm – scary time of day to shoot, right??  Not if you carefully choose your location!  The photo on the left perfectly shows where the line of open shade begins and in the photo on the right she is positioned about 3 feet back from that line with plenty of sunlight reflected onto her face.
Photography tips on how to take pictures, finding open shade. #phototip #photography www.KristenDuke.com

In this image the overhang from the building provided perfect open shade and in the doors you can see the light from the street that was reflected back on this family.

Photography tips on how to take pictures, finding open shade. #phototip #photography www.KristenDuke.com
Here my subject is seated in the open shade of on outdoor shopping area, and if you look closely you can see my reflection in the window!  (I was 8 months pregnant!)
Hopefully you are catching on to what open shade is and how to use it, and so I challenge you to start actively looking for open shade in your every day life.  It’s everywhere!  Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things!  Take your kiddos out to the garage and open it – have them stand a few feet inside (make sure they are all the way in the shade) and take a few practice shots of your own.  It’s easy!  You’ll be amazed at the difference in the quality of light in your images.  Thanks for having me Kristen!  Happy shooting everyone!
If you’d like to take better pictures with your slr camera, check out Say NO to Auto by clicking on the square below:

Shari Hanson
Shari Hanson is a natural light portrait photographer based in Huntington Beach, California. She is self-taught in photography and Photoshop and has 5 years of hands-on experience. Shari strives to capture genuine emotions and authentic connections with her clients and places great value on creating a memorable experience for them. She has been married for 12 years and is mother to four rambunctious mama's boys. When she's not busy being mama and photographer, she enjoys reading, nibbling on chocolate and napping in the sun at the beach.
Shari Hanson
Shari Hanson

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Comments

  1. Kristie says:

    Love this tip! Can’t wait to try it out! Thanks for sharing!!!

  2. diane love says:

    Thanks for the great advice! It is a full on sunshine-y day here is Kansas City so I can’t wait to get my camera out. :0)

  3. Kathleen Clegg says:

    Thanks for the information! Very interesting and informative. I will put it to use, maybe today.

  4. Love this post! Thanks for sharing Shari!
    Jen recently posted..Playroom Inspiration with Land of NodMy Profile

  5. the three images side by side illustrate your point wonderfully!
    Mindy recently posted..Two Days in Vancouver with a ToddlerMy Profile

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  1. [...] is really important.  I found that not shooting in open shade but full out shade wrecked havoc on my photos.  I knew I would be shooting in shade and figured [...]