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Photography 101: Five Tips For Taking Incredible Mobile Photos in the Sun

As mentioned in my first post concerning "The Best Android Camera Apps Right Now", I know next to nothing about photography.

This said, I know how to figure things out. As such, here are some basic tips for taking mobile photos in the sunlight.

For more great information on how to turn a snapshot into a great shot, check out these great photography titles.

Direct Sunlight Photography

1. Shooting Directly Into the Light

For obvious reasons, shooting into direct sunlight is a terrible idea. Your lens floods with direct light. The coloring and natural shadowing of everything around you will be distorted. The lens will gain an incredible amount of lens flair. Everything around the sun, by way of how bright it really is, will be naturally turned down in terms of focus, detail, reflection and the ability to capture light.

Rule Number One: Shoot directly into the light is a bad idea unless you place an object between your lens and the sun.

2. Items In Front of the Sun

Create Silhouettes

One way to shoot directly into the sun is to place a large object in front of it. In my case, I chose a tree. Not only does the object block out direct sunlight causing your lens to do everything mentioned above, it also helps create silhouettes. By placing a large item in front of the sun, the item is backlit. Backlighting on an object, depending on where the source of light is and how intense that light is, will create silhouettes on dark images, will create a pop of color/vibrancy on semi-opaque objects and will ensure a lack of lens flare.

Rule Number Two: Shooting into the sun requires an object placed directly in front of the light source.

3. Shoot the Shadows

Shoot the Shadows

If the sun is good for anything, it's creating shadows. If you are going to shoot in a very sunny environment, one of the best bets is to try and capture the reverse - shadows. By shooting shadows, not only do you get the absence of light, you also get the interplay of light. The effect highlights different parts of the photo and creates a nice image to look at. If you place another image in that photos, the interplay of light and shadow will play with the surface of your object to reflect/absorb light in different fashions.

Rule Number Three: Shoot the shadows.

4. Shoot with the Sun On Your Back

Shoot with the Sun on Your Back

To create great natural light on any object, shoot with the sun at your back. By shooting with the sun at your back, the object you are shooting is naturally bathed in light to create a great image. With the sun on your back, the object in your foreground is evenly lit allowing your lens to capture a max amount of detail without having to play with any filters, contrast etc. The process of shooting with the sun at your back is particularly good for shooting landscapes and cityscapes.

Rule Number Four: Shoot with the sun on your back for great lighting.

5. Shoot with the Sun On Your Side

Shoot with the Sun on Your Side

Angles are fun. When it comes to shooting in the sun, shooting from the side at various angles will create great shadow effects on your subjects and will allow you to perfectly light one side of the object. At the same time, shooting from the side will evenly light one side of your object and evenly darken another. It works as a great contrast. While this example, admittedly is not the best example, the idea can be seen in action.

Rule Number Five: Shoot with the sun at your side.

Note: All photos within this post were taken with the authors Samsung Galaxy S4 using various Android camera apps.

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